In a boost to interoperability, SNOMED CT to power IPS sub-ontology

Fitness & Health:

SNOMED International announced this past week that its governance bodies had recently enacted a decision to support the scope of content within the International Patient Summary.

The organization said it will extend the core of SNOMED CT’s structured clinical terminology in order to create and release an open, standalone IPS sub-ontology in the first half of 2022.

This, in turn, will support international data-sharing, said SNOMED International.


“2021 has seen increased interest by governments and health and care organizations globally for implementing the IPS to enhance timely cross-border health information flow and interoperability,” said Alex Elias, chair of SNOMED International’s General Assembly, in a statement.

“This has been a primary driver in SNOMED International supporting this recent initiative to make the IPS sub-ontology openly available with SNOMED CT content,” Elias continued.


SNOMED CT supports the representation of detailed clinical information in a way that can be processed automatically.

Meanwhile, the IPS is an electronic health record extract containing information for use in multiple scenarios, including in cross-border, unscheduled care.

According to SNOMED, implementers will be able to leverage the IPS sub-ontology in healthcare tools using SNOMED CT through its query language and hierarchies for specified scopes.

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The organization contrasted the proposed sub-ontology with the Global Patient Set, a flat list of SNOMED CT codes and terms comprising unique identifiers, fully specified names, preferred terms in International English and status flags.

Use of the IPS sub-ontology will allow for more effective use of data analytics and decision support, along with artificial intelligence applications, SNOMED said.

“The importance of enabling digital healthcare systems worldwide to work together seamlessly so patients don’t suffer as they move between providers, facilities and even countries is a sentiment that has rippled throughout the global health community,” said SNOMED International CEO Don Sweete.

“Equipping the IPS, already one of the best examples of international collaboration among standards bodies, with the full capability of SNOMED CT’s ontological design is a significant action that we can contribute to achieving health information access gains for patients,” he added.


Global standards play a vital role in fostering interoperability, particularly on an international scale.

Standards development organizations such as SNOMED and HL7 International have resolved to work together with an eye toward that goal.

This past month, the two organizations announced that they had renewed their collaborative relationship for five years, particularly focusing on initiatives satisfying the use of the SNOMED CT terminology product with FHIR and other HL7 tools.

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“SNOMED International has been pleased to continue to work with HL7 International and partners across Europe and beyond to define SNOMED CT content for use in the International Patient Summary,” said SNOMED International Management Board Chair Joanne Burns in a statement.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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