Australia’s National Clinical Terminology Service: A world first national implementation of Ontoserver

April 14th, 2022

Ontoserver is the foundation of the Australian Digital Health Agency’s National Clinical Terminology Service (NCTS). 

What is the NCTS? 

The NCTS provides state of the art terminology services that promote implementation and adoption of national clinical terminologies in Australia. The aim of the service is to support easier, consistent and more meaningful use of clinical terminologies in healthcare.  

As part of the NCTS a licensing agreement between the Australian Digital Health Agency and CSIRO enables public and private health sectors to access these tools for use in Australia.  

The Challenge

Terminology is time consuming and expensive for software vendors to maintain, and just another thing to manage for adopting organisations. 

The NCTS wanted to increase uptake of clinical terminologies nationally. So, reducing the implementation barriers and complexity faced by software vendors and others in the healthcare was a priority. 

To do this they needed: 

  • World class model for national clinical terminology distribution 
  • ONE centralised location for the distribution of clinical terminology 
  • Growth in the adoption of clinical terminologies in Australia 
  • Ability to distribute own terminologies as well those developed by others 
  • Ability to support more customers with the provision of FHIR operations, a syndication service as well as traditional file formats 

The Outcome

Using Ontoserver NCTS improved adoption and use of clinical terminologies by reducing the complexities and efforts required by vendors in the implementation and maintenance of terminology. 

NCTS will increase use of the syndication service with people authenticating directly and will increase use of FHIR operations for querying. 

“…we know that having meaningful transfer of health information between various clinical systems is key to the ongoing health outcomes of patients, and improving healthcare overall in Australia.” 

“There has really been growth in the adoption of terminologies in recent times. That’s evident in the uptake of Ontoserver by other licensees to help them manage their terminologies and set up syndication service the national terminology server.” 

“The CSIRO/NCTS collaboration is seen as a model for development by other SNOMED national release centres. The product produced was world class and has certainly drawn significant global attention.” 

2017 iAward