NHS Digital has signed a deal with DXC Technology and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO that will improve interoperability, data sharing and integrated care across different health and care organisations in the UK.
The NHS Digital Terminology Server will be implemented to act as a translation service, meaning clinical and administrative codes will be mapped more efficiently across health and care organisations and their contracted technology supplies.
A single-supplier procurement framework will be used to integrate local and existing coding languages into national and international coding languages, supporting integrated care and improving clinical safety.
The server will also support other tools such as the NHS Data Dictionary and enable researchers to develop new databases that will support new coding systems such as SNOMED-CT.
WHY IT MATTERS
The terminology solution will be compliant with Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards, a system used for exchanging healthcare information electronically and that implements higher clinical data quality thresholds.
CSIRO have already developed Ontoserver to map common variations in clinical terminologies.
NHS Wales will see the terminology server delivered under the National Data Resource Programme, which will enable consistent usage of SNOMED-CT; analysis of NHS Wales clinical data; the creation and maintenance of code maps between services and organisations; and the maintenance and distribution of Once for Wales administrative and clinical code.
THE LARGER PICTURE
Interoperability has recently been driven forward, with the ONC and CMS pushing for the adoption of FHIR in March.
ON THE RECORD
Nicholas Oughtibridge, principle data architect at NHS Digital says: “Recording data once and then reconciling, comparing and sharing the data safely has been a long-standing challenge across the NHS.
“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.”
Colin Henderson, industry general manager at DXC UK, comments: “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”.
Rhidian Hurle, medical director at NHS Wales Informatics Service & CCIO NHS Wales adds: “Structured, standardised and clinically meaningful data is fundamental to ensuring high quality data drives decisions to improve outcomes within our Health Service. The implementation of an NHS Wales Terminology Service is a significant development in our vision to deliver to the people of Wales first-class digital health and care services which will enable more effective, efficient, safer decision-making by providing access to content-rich, person-focused health and care data and information.”