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Blog: Not a Member? SNOMED International provides barrier-free access to many resources

May 27, 2021

By Shelley Lipon

Chief Customer Officer

One of the things I’m most proud of at SNOMED International is our commitment to improving global health. We do that in part by making some of our products and resources available at no cost to a wide range of users, including lower-income countries and non-profit, charitable and humanitarian organizations, so that money is not a barrier to the use of structured terminology within developing digital health systems. 

Did you know, for example, that any country the World Development Bank has classified as low income that is interested in implementing SNOMED CT can do so by submitting a request through our help desk? So far, we have provided four licenses for low-income countries: two for Ethiopia, one for Rwanda and one for Yemen.  

In fact, all our Membership fees are based on a fair-share Gross National Income (GNI)-based allocation methodology, meaning even low-middle income countries will pay less than countries with higher GNI.  

Not-for-profit organizations that want to use SNOMED CT non-commercially for the betterment of people living in rural areas and/or poorer countries, and research groups or organizations conducting non-commercial research that contributes to broadening our collective understanding and knowledge base, can also apply for a SNOMED CT licence by completing an application form and submitting it for our consideration. For example, Safe Surgery South Africa (SSSA), a clinician-driven not-for-profit research institution, is using a no-fee SNOMED CT license as part of a study to measure the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on surgical outcomes.  

We do all of this because we, along with our Members, are committed to investing in the mission and vision of SNOMED International and enabling the broader availability of our products and services. 

Open products

As well, we also make freely available the Global Patient Set (GPS), a managed collection of existing SNOMED CT reference sets, to enable use of structured clinical data without barriers, and to support preferred conditions for interoperability. We are continuously updating and adding content to the GPS, which we publish every September. Last year we added to the GPS all of the COVID-19 and related SNOMED CT content, as well as social determinants of health content that we added to the 2020 International Edition releases.  

In addition, we offer useful code libraries, examples of using SNOMED CT and the source to all of our tools, including the popular SNOMED CT Browser and Snowstorm SNOMED CT Terminology Server.

Free educational resources

Non-members can also visit our e-learning platform, where they will find a number of open courses and resources, including starter tutorials, presentations, course information and guides, our document library and past SNOMED CT Expo presentations. As well, anyone can register to participate in the clinical, implementation and research webinars we offer at no cost, or watch recordings of those sessions on our YouTube channel. In addition to our own resources, we also offer a central location where you can access national terminology resources our Member countries make freely available. 

Contributing SNOMED CT content to other products

SNOMED International also provides subsets of its content for free in various non-SNOMED International products. In 2016, we signed an agreement with the DICOM Standards Committee to include SNOMED CT codes and descriptions in the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard. And in 2019, we signed an agreement with Health Level Seven International (HL7) to include a ‘Free for Use’ set of SNOMED CT coded concepts within the HL7 International Patient Summary (IPS). The IPS free set consists of more than 8,000 SNOMED CT terms for use in implementations of the HL7 Clinical Document Architecture Release 2 and FHIR IPS Implementation Guides, both of which are predominantly used across Europe. As well, SNOMED International creates maps from SNOMED CT to other code systems, classifications or terminologies, including the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 10, to support our Members and other stakeholders that use these products alongside SNOMED CT.  

Supporting SNOMED CT vendors

Another benefit we offer non-Members is our SNOMED CT marketplace, where vendors that have incorporated SNOMED CT into their products can have their products listed, providing them greater visibility within the SNOMED CT community. Currently, there are 46 vendors in that marketplace. 

Why is it important to provide different options to access SNOMED CT?

Realizing SNOMED International’s vision of “one global language of health that enables improved patient outcomes” depends on supporting and enabling our Members and others to access, implement and employ the knowledge and tools they need, free from financial barriers. Making products and resources available at no cost can support the nascent use of clinical terminology within a developing health system and the sharing of patient summary information across borders with existing SNOMED International Member countries or affiliates. 

Visit us for more information on becoming a SNOMED International Member.  

Look for regular updates from SNOMED International on our products, services and many resources as we continue to expand and improve SNOMED CT and enable its use worldwide.  

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