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Developing a Terminology Server for London

In the first in a series of features on the London Data Service we hear from OneLondon’s Head of Digital Solutions, Simon Meredith, about a Terminology Server for London  – an essential tool to help us deliver improvements in health and care in the Capital (27 March 2023).

The London Data Service

OneLondon is working with our Integrated Care System partners to deliver the London Data Service in line with public recommendations that were agreed by Londoners.

Simon Meredith

The London Data Service will help partners analyse health trends to better plan services, identify any groups whose needs are not being met or who might be at greater risk of ill health and support research into new treatments.

Key to this work is the development of what’s known as a Terminology Server. It sounds very dull but it is exciting and innovative work that will help improve health and care outcomes across the Capital.

What is a Terminology Server?

Health and care organisations use a multitude of different systems to record their data, often using different terms for the same thing.  For example, one doctor might record a “chest infection” in a patient’s record, while another might record it as “upper respiratory infection”.

When we bring data from these different sources together we need to be “comparing apples with apples”, or more appropriately “chest infections with chest infections”. That’s where the Terminology Server comes in!

A Terminology Server helps us to record data consistently as well as ensuring that terms that mean the same can be treated the same, even when recorded differently.

It means we can bring together data in a consistent, accurate and useful way to support work to improve the health and care of Londoners.

Why does London need its own Terminology Server?

Every part of the country is different with its own special circumstances, needs and priorities. For example, London may have higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease or other conditions than other areas of the country.

We can tailor the use of our own Terminology Server to these priorities which are agreed by our Integrated Care Boards, in consultation with the communities they serve.

We want the Terminology Service to be led by London’s clinicians and other experts who are best placed to ensure it meets the needs of Londoners.

This consistent mapping of data is vital for the London Data Service. It will help ensure we have the joined-up, clear, complete and accurate information we need to deliver improved health and care outcomes in the Capital.

What is the latest news on the Terminology Server?

A contract has been set up with Dedalus UK to provide Ontoserver, a Terminology Service solution developed by the Australian government agency, CSIRO.  NHS England are also using this service for their national level health and care improvement work.

Dedalus UK are currently building the Terminology Service for us and are providing additional support and expertise to enable us to go live in the coming months.

This month we kicked off a number of initiatives to raise awareness about this work with our key London partners including a series of online training sessions.

Through these events we aim to build a community of interested parties across London, tapping into existing groups and networks where possible. Now we have the technical capability, we need to use our collective expertise across the Capital to drive forward this important work to improve patient outcomes.

We are also talking to other organisations, like NHS Scotland, who are also using Ontoserver. We really want to be able to share learnings and experiences and support each other as we undertake similar journeys.

This is really complex work but a huge amount of progress is being made thanks to the hard work and expertise of so many people. It will play a vital role in improving health and care in the Capital for years to come.

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