CSIRO and DXC land medical terminology server deal with UK's National Health Service

By implementing CSIRO's Ontoserver framework, NHS will ensure healthcare organisations across the UK speak the same language.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and DXC Technology have secured the contract to supply the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) with its interoperability terminology system to ensure healthcare systems across the UK speak the same language.

Under the deal, valued at just under £10 million, according to initial tender documents, CSIRO will deliver its Ontoserver framework to the NHS, with the support of DXC as a managed service provider.

CSIRO e-health research centre CEO Dr David Hansen explained that healthcare organisations often use different software and terminologies, but Ontoserver has been designed to be a fast healthcare interoperability resources native terminology service that supports a number of international standard medical terminologies, such as SNOWMED CT.

"Ideally, we like to think everyone speaks the same language, but we know that's not the case," he told ZDNet.

"There's also a lot of nuances in language as well. Ontoserver will help codify some of those, and some of the extra support we have in Ontoserver is to be able to map between different terminology."

Hansen said medical terminology often differs between countries when it comes to the handling of medications. 

"How each country handles the name of their drugs and the active ingredients, and the approval process. It tends to be the biggest difference. But medical terms for diseases and procedures are mostly standard internationally," he said.

NHS Digital principle data architect Nicholas Oughtibridge said standardising terminology would mean healthcare providers are able to record data once and share it 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 Ontoserver delivers are key to enabling data from disparate systems to be safely and meaningfully exchanged between care providers, researchers, and service planners," he said.

"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 have a real boost for researchers."

Ontoserver is currently the technology that underpins the Australian government's National Clinical Terminology Service, and is also being used by other healthcare organisations in New Zealand, the US, Germany, and Switzerland.

On Tuesday, CSIRO also announced that it has licenced its sensor-based in-home monitoring system featuring an algorithm from HSC Technology Group, which will integrate the technology into its smart analytics platform to provide healthcare support for older Australians who choose to live independently. 

According to CSIRO, the monitoring system will be able to measure an individual's daily activities, such as meal preparation, mobility, hygiene, and grooming. The data will be accessible via the HSC platform and provide users, such as other family members, access to real-time information about how their elderly relatives. 

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