NHS Digital has signed a deal with DXC Technology and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, to help improve data sharing across different organisations.

The deal provides a single-supplier procurement framework that will give health and care organisations across the UK an efficient route to procure a terminology server.

This will allow buyers to share code system reference data from a central NHS Digital Terminology Server, enabling easier integration of local coding systems with national and international coding languages.

Approved researchers and planners will be able to draw upon reference data from the NHS Digital Terminology Server to create their own databases, where they will be able to map local and existing codes with new coding systems such as SNOMED-CT.

CSIRO developed Ontoserver to match up common variations in clinical terminologies – such as “chest infection” vs “upper-respiratory infection” to help the different clinical coding software talk to each other.  It’s a “back end” solution, building on NHS Digital’s data register service. The solution will use the international FHIR standards to process codes, their descriptions and interrelationships, including complex queries.

Nicholas Oughtibridge, principle data architect at NHS Digital said: “Recording data once and then reconciling, comparing and sharing the data safely has been a long-standing challenge across the NHS.

“Ontoserver has the potential to transform the way in which data is captured, shared and analysed across health and care.

“The capabilities that Ontoserver delivers are key to enabling data from disparate systems to be safely and meaningfully exchanged between care providers, researchers and service planners.

“NHS data is already a valuable tool in fighting disease and finding new courses of treatment, but having access to more localised data, more quickly will have a real boost for researchers.”

In Wales, the Terminology Server will be delivered under the National Data Resource Programme as a core component of the NHS Wales Digital Health and Care Record Architecture.

Colin Henderson, industry general manager at DXC UK, added: “Speaking a common language is essential for integrating healthcare and improving patient care. This agreement is a major step forward for the NHS in driving interoperability through the delivery of a common terminology across national, regional and local healthcare ecosystems.”

“The adoption of international health standards such as HL7 FHIR, and terminology sets such as SNOMED CT, are central to DXC’s interoperability solutions and the value they drive to unlock greater insights in health data.”