A solution which has been designed to allow healthcare IT systems to speak the same language is now live.

NHS Digital’s Terminology Server, which is FHIR conformant, transforms the way in which data is captured, shared and analysed across the health and care system.

At the heart of the solution is the ability to translate items into a common ‘language of health’ when professionals describe something using different terms. For example, a symptom could be described as “back-ache” or equally referred to as “lower lumbar pain”.  When such information is recorded and shared across the health and care system the Terminology Server can be used to match the disparate descriptions so that all the organisations and software involved in a patient’s journey can ‘talk’ to each other and the patient data can be reconciled and compared effectively.

This means organisations from across the system can rapidly receive national code sets and updates, such as SNOMED CT, clinicians can code in the same language and input the data easier, researchers can use the improved coded data to facilitate better research and organisations can innovate and create new apps without the need to maintain large code sets, through a single API.

Nicholas Oughtibridge, lead data architect at NHS Digital said: “Having consistent codes makes life easier for clinicians and researchers, and ultimately patients.

“The Terminology Server facilitates faster data capture and record keeping at the clinical coalface and enables those records to be reused not only in a single clinical setting but in other similar or very different settings as a patient moves around the health and care system.  The Terminology Server also opens the opportunity to reuse data for population analysis, research or for regulating providers.”

NHS Digital are the first organisation to go live with a solution from the national framework which was awarded in September 2020 to Dedalus and their partner CSIRO, the creators of Ontoserver.

The framework was created to make the adoption of standards much simpler, easier and more cost effective and enables healthcare organisations to use NHS Digital’s service or procure and manage their own solution.

Colin Henderson, regional general manager at the Dedalus Group, UK & Ireland said: “Enabling healthcare systems to speak the same language is a key component in driving interoperability.  The Terminology Server provides a real opportunity to create an ecosystem and a community of users across the UK that can benefit from accurate, consistent and up-to-date data.”

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