top of page

SNOMED International releases an open terminology to broaden clinical data interoperability

November 30, 2022

London, United Kingdom  -- Roughly one year ago, SNOMED International declared its intention to extend the core of SNOMED CT’s structured clinical terminology to deliver an open, standalone terminology in support of the International Patient Summary (IPS) for non-SNOMED International Members. The organization has now issued the first production release of SNOMED International’s IPS Terminology that adds the hierarchy, defining relationships and extra synonyms from the SNOMED CT International Edition to form a sub-ontology of SNOMED CT that can be loaded into a terminology server for the specified scope of the IPS.

The IPS itself is an extract of an electronic health record containing essential healthcare information to support cross-border and unscheduled patient care. The IPS also has the potential to be used in many other scenarios where a patient crosses health information systems, like travel between provinces/states, cities or organizations that use a different Health Information System. From a technical perspective, the IPS is a minimal, non-exhaustive set of data elements defined by ISO/EN 17269 and delivered by HL7 in both CDA and FHIR using a curated set of SNOMED CT terms.

Since 2019, predating the organization’s IPS Terminology initiative, SNOMED International has made a free set of SNOMED CT codes available (the HL7 IPS free set), as part of its  Global Patient Set (GPS) to support the implementation of the HL7 FHIR IPS specification. The GPS is a ‘flat list’ of SNOMED CT codes and terms without hierarchy or relationships, whereas the IPS Terminology brings all the benefits of the SNOMED CT structure.

CEO Don Sweete shares his insights on how the IPS and the IPS Terminology are relevant in today’s changing global healthcare environment. “In response to the interest that governments globally have shown in implementing the IPS to enhance timely cross border health information flow and interoperability, SNOMED International has prioritized the creation and release of the IPS Terminology, openly available with content from SNOMED CT.” He continued on to state that, “We are at a point where enabling digital healthcare systems worldwide to work together seamlessly is critical. To advance these efforts, we have chosen to dedicate our resources to achieve the goal of interoperability by equipping the IPS, already one of the best examples of international collaboration among standards bodies, with the full capabilities that SNOMED CT offers. We will continue our collaborative efforts in this space as the needs of global health care systems continue to evolve.”

Throughout 2022, SNOMED International has been configuring its approach to making the IPS Terminology a tangible artifact in its lineup of products and services. First released in its beta version in April 2022 for focused stakeholder testing and feedback, the IPS Terminology is accompanied by a User Guide to support implementers in non- Member regions to understand the features, capabilities and limitations of the IPS Terminology package. Providing an overview of the IPS Terminology's scope and features, the Guide also provides IPS Terminology use cases as well as direction on how to implement the IPS Terminology in a terminology server, and how to upgrade to a full SNOMED CT edition if additional terminology content is required.

Watch global experts discuss the IPS, Global Digital Health Partnership and the IPS Terminology at the recent  SNOMED CT Expo 2022.

It is worth noting that current SNOMED CT users, those located in a SNOMED International Member region or those with an Affiliate license to a complete SNOMED CT edition, should avoid use of the IPS Terminology and instead, implement their IPS solutions using a full edition of SNOMED CT. To share IPS data with non-Affiliates, licensed users may choose to refer to the IPS Reference Set. This reference set identifies the subset of key concepts from the IPS Terminology and is available as a supplementary package from SNOMED International's MLDS service.

Visit SNOMED International to download the IPS Terminology and related resources. To view the IPS Terminology via browser, visit

Subscribe to the organization’s news service to learn more as this initiative progresses. For additional information, contact

bottom of page