NHS collaborates with CSIRO on data sharing tech


NHS Digital has signed a deal to enable the mapping of “clinical and administrative codes between different health and care agencies, and their contracted technology suppliers.”

The project - which will take place in collaboration with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and DXC Technology – will involve the use of a new ‘terminology server,’ known as Ontoserver.

Speaking of the initiative, a spokesperson for the NHS Digital said: “This will improve clinical safety, enabling health organisations and suppliers to have access to a consistent terminology, mapping capability to support integrated care. This will [in turn] allow buyers to share code system reference data from a central NHS digital terminology server.

“From this, researchers and planners will be able to draw upon reference data in order to create their own databases. They will be able to map local and existing codes with new coding systems such as SNOMED-CT.

“CSIRO developed Ontoserver to match up common variations in clinical terminologies, such as ‘chest infection’ [as compared to] ‘upper-respiratory infection’. It did this in order to help the different clinical coding software talk to each other.”

Discussing the technology, principal data architect at NHS Digital, Nicholas Oughtibridge, said: “Recording data once and then reconciling, comparing and sharing it safely has been a long-standing challenge across the NHS. Ontoserver has the potential to transform the way in which data is captured, shared and analysed across health and care.

“The capabilities that the technology 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 provide a real boost.”

According to NHS Digital, the deal also provides a single-supplier procurement framework, giving UK organisations “an efficient route to procure a terminology server.” 

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