HHS joins effort for international EHR standards

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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt announced that the U.S. will participate in an international effort to develop global deployment and adoption of standard clinical terminology for electronic health records. The United States is one of nine charter members of the new International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHT SDO), which has acquired Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) from the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Other initial members include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Membership is open to all countries.

"International implementation of SNOMED CT is good for everyone engaged in developing electronic health records, and it will open up new opportunities for international collaboration in research and public health surveillance," Secretary Leavitt said. "This use of a standard terminology will enable the use of health information across borders, facilitate public health surveillance and support evidence-based research."

The new IHT SDO provides a solid basis for making standard terminology available in developing countries and for aligning SNOMED CT with key international public health standards, including those produced by the World Health Organization.

It will also assume responsibility for the ongoing maintenance, development, quality assurance, and distribution of SNOMED CT. CAP will continue in a support role to standards development organization operations under an initial three-year contract with the IHT SDO and to provide SNOMED-related products and services as a licensee of the terminology.

"Current and potential U.S. users of SNOMED CT will gain some immediate benefits under the new uniform international license terms that will now govern use of SNOMED CT worldwide," said Robert Kolodner, MD, HHS national coordinator for health information technology. "A single license will cover all types of use in both member and non-member countries, with fees applying only to some types of distribution or use in non-member countries."

For more: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/snomed