box10.gif (1299 bytes)








IHTSDO acquires SNOMED, Infoway joins board

TORONTO – Common standards are a requirement for Canada’s drive to establish electronic health records (EHRs) and the recent acquisition of SNOMED CT by an international standards organization will allow Canadians to benefit from access to this comprehensive, clinical healthcare terminology standard.

Canada is one of the seven charter countries that have established the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization(IHTSDO) to acquire SNOMED CT from the College of American Pathologists.

Other charter nations include Australia, Denmark, Lithuania, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. By acquiring the standard, IHTSDO is ensuring its maintenance, development, quality assurance and distribution on a global scale. Canada, as a charter member, will be represented on the organization’s management board by Canada Health Infoway.

“This is an important first step forward in ensuring the sustainability of a standard that will provide long-term benefits to the establishment of an interoperable pan-Canadian EHR,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s president and chief executive officer. “This is an opportunity to move forward in the domain of health informatics standards for both Canada and, indeed, for all nations working towards EHRs. Infoway is very honoured to be representing Canada in such a worthwhile endeavour.”

In Canada, SNOMED CT will be available through the Infoway Standards Collaborative, which will be setting up a National Product Centre to provide a central point for managing, distributing, supporting and monitoring the use of this standard and related assets.

More information on the standard and its availability in Canada will be posted in the coming weeks on Infoway’s website (

Persons requiring further details can e-mail the Standards Collaborative Infodesk at

SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms) has been recommended by Canada Health Infoway’s Clinical Terminology Integration (CTI) pan-Canadian Standards Group (pCSG) as the best choice of terminology for 24 priority clinical information groupings (or sub-domains) of the core interoperable EHR.

SNOMED CT will offer significant benefits as its common terms for clinical messaging can help ensure up-to-date patient data is available to healthcare providers, enable more complete and accurate diagnosing, prescribing and faster access to appropriate treatment, allow healthcare resources to be managed more efficiently to deliver better quality care,and improve patient safety thanks to more accurate patient records.

The IHTSDO has been established under Danish law as a not-for-profit organization and will be headquartered in Copenhagen. Membership is open to all countries and there is a provision for sponsored use in developing nations.

SNOMED was started in 1965 as SNOP (systematized nomenclature of pathology), and later extended into other medical fields. SNOMED CT (Systematized NOmenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms) was a joint development between the NHS in England and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) to develop an international clinical terminology and was formed in 1999 by the convergence of SNOMED RT and the United Kingdom’s Clinical Terms Version 3 (formerly known as the Read Codes).

About Canada Health Infoway
Infoway is an independent not-for-profit organization that invests with public sector partners across Canada to implement and reuse compatible health information systems, which support a safer, more efficient healthcare system. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide healthcare professionals with rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable healthcare system offering improved quality, accessibility and productivity.