International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) Open Sources Health Terminology Workbench

Accelerates Global Collaboration to Develop and Use Shared Toolset

Copenhagen, Denmark: December 17, 2009 – The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation announced today that it is making source code for the IHTSDO Workbench, including tools to develop, maintain, and facilitate the use of SNOMED CT, freely available under an Apache2 open source agreement. IHTSDO will also make a number of seats on the collaborative web-based environment used to host the Workbench available free of charge to open source developers. “Open sourcing the IHTSDO Workbench will make it easier for developers from around the world to work together to further develop these tools,” said John Gutai, IHTSDO’s chief technical architect. “It also means that organizations and standards bodies from around the world can use the same tools to maintain their own terminologies and coding systems, leveraging the investment that IHTSDO and its Members have made.”

Click to access Workbench_Open_Sourcing_Press_Release_December_2009_final.pdf

IHTSDO Workbench Includes Terminology Editing, Browsing, and Other Applications

The IHTSDO Workbench source code includes a set of tools that allow users to author terminology, map terminology to other code sets, undertake workflow and process automation, search/browse terminology, and classify terminology (enabling reasoning over the SNOMED CT terminology). Workbench users can work independently or can collaborate on terminology editing, management, or other tasks. In addition, IHTSDO is making non-clinical meta-data describing the structure of SNOMED CT available under an Apache2 agreement.

IHTSDO intends to add additional modules to the Workbench over time and to encourage partners to build and share complementary tools. Developers will be able to contribute to the progress of the Workbench itself and collaboration facilities will be made available to open source contributors who wish to assist with maintenance and enhancements to the source code.

“Already IHTSDO and a number of its Members are using the Workbench to develop, maintain, and produce terminology resources,” Ted Cizadlo, Chair of the IHTSDO Technical Committee. “Standardized clinical terminology is a key building block for the safe, accurate, and effective exchange of health information, and open sourcing the IHTSDO Workbench means that even more experts from around the world can join this collaborative effort.”

The IHTSDO Workbench is part of IHTSDO’s on-going efforts to enable broader access to, and use of, standardized clinical terminologies worldwide. Already, fourteen countries have joined together to support the on-going development and maintenance of SNOMED CT and related standards, sharing the costs on a sliding scale based on national income and making the standards freely available in their jurisdictions. IHTSDO also offers free access to SNOMED CT in countries that are not yet members for qualifying research projects and on humanitarian or charitable grounds, as well as in countries with low income economies.

About International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO)
The IHTSDO (International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation) and its Members seek to improve the health of humankind by fostering the development and use of suitable standardized clinical terminologies, notably SNOMED CT, in order to support the safe, accurate, and effective exchange of health information. The IHTSDO is an international organisation, established as a Danish not-for-profit association.

The IHTSDO Workbench source code is available through the following URL: For more information about how to access this site, please email Berit Jensen at bje (at), providing the following contact information: name, organization, country, and email address. To ensure a quick reply, please use “a request for access to the IHTSDO Workbench source code” as the subject line of your email. Thank you.

SNOMED Clinical Terms™ (SNOMED CT™) is a standardized terminology that can be used as the foundation for electronic health records and other applications. For example, different clinicians often use different terms to describe the same concept. SNOMED CT contains more than 310,000 unique concepts and more than 1.3 million links or relationships between them that ensure that this information is captured consistently, accurately, and reliably across the health system. The terminology is used in more than forty countries around the world. SNOMED CT was originally created by the College of American Pathologists by combining SNOMED RT and a computer-based nomenclature and classification known as Clinical Terms Version 3, formerly known as Read Codes Version 3, which was created on behalf of the UK Department of Health and is Crown copyright.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Zelmer
+45 3644 8736

SNOMED, SNOMED CT, and IHTSDO are trademarks of the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation. All other trademarks used in this document are the property of their respective owners.

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