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SNOMED International launches the Global Patient Set

September 3, 2019

A view into SNOMED CT’s globally recognized clinical terminology with the release of the Global Patient Set

Access the most up to date release of the Global Patient Set at

September 3, 2019 --  Picture an elderly patient navigating orthopaedic care across primary, acute and rehabilitative sectors; a woman moving through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in a developing digital health environment; or gathering critical patient information in the midst of a conflict, epidemic or disaster. These scenarios represent instances in which the Global Patient Set (GPS) can make an impact in non-SNOMED CT enabled countries.

A slice of SNOMED CT, the GPS is a managed collection of existing reference sets, available to any user at no cost.  The GPS offers clinical content across dentistry, renal, family & general practice and nursing areas, and includes IHE, DICOM and HL7 International Patient Summary (IPS) domains and activities.  SNOMED International's General Assembly Chair, Lies van Gennip, is encouraged by what the GPS represents, including easier specification of EHR requirements through clinical documents such as a patient summary. Van Gennip shares, "The GPS is a step towards increased clinical information sharing across borders, bridging the interoperability divide through the use of structured terminology." 

Those not presently engaged in SNOMED International membership or party to an affiliate license have the most to gain from the GPS.  The GPS can support the nascent use of clinical terminology within a developing health system, the sharing of patient summary information across borders with existing SNOMED International Member countries or affiliates, as well as promoting use in specification development and research. CEO Don Sweete offers, “The impetus driving the GPS is to introduce a facet of SNOMED CT’s global terminology where it can be put to good use, whether that’s supporting cross border interoperability or enhancing digital maturity.”  SNOMED International has elaborated on these use cases, or scenarios, and has made them openly available. 

The GPS contains SNOMED CT unique identifiers, fully specified names, preferred terms in international English, and status flags.  While valuable in many ways to various healthcare actors and their supporting digital environments, it’s important to note that the GPS as a whole is not a clinically curated list; it excludes SNOMED CT’s inherent relationships and hierarchies; fundamental to the nature of an ontology and its ability to enable clinical data analytics, decision support, and power artificial intelligence, etc.  The complete set of concept synonyms and definitions are also not part of the GPS. 

Chief among the benefits of SNOMED International membership includes access to terminology that enables interoperability, reduced clinical risk, large scale public health reporting and research, and a wealth of organization resources including education, tooling, creation of national extensions, representation on governance bodies, and dedicated on-boarding and user support. 

Offered under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License, the GPS is available to any interested party, at no cost, simply by visiting SNOMED International’s GPS information page and registering your use. The intention is that the GPS will be updated and released annually to reflect changes to the underlying terminology, including concept inactivations and additions. Implementation guidance has been created and can be found as part of the GPS file as well as on SNOMED International’s GPS information page.

Access the most up to date release of the Global Patient Set at

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