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This section provides an overview of:

  • The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO)
  • Members of IHTSDO
  • IHTSDO Standing Committees and Working Groups
  • National Release Centers


Why is this important?

IHTSDO is the international not-for-profit Organisation that owns and administers SNOMED CT, and owns the rights to SNOMED CT and related terminology standards.

What is this?

IHTSDO is an association governed by a General Assembly that contains one representative of each of its national Members.
IHTSDO seeks to improve the health of humankind by fostering the development and use of suitable standardized clinical terminologies, notably SNOMED CT, in order to support safe, accurate, and effective exchange of clinical and related health information. The focus is on enabling the implementation of semantically accurate health records that are interoperable.
The purpose of IHTSDO is to develop, maintain, promote and enable the uptake and correct use of its terminology products in health systems, services and products around the world, and undertake any or all activities incidental and conducive to achieving the purpose of the Association for the benefits of the members.

Members of IHTSDO

IHTSDO now has more than 25 national Members. An updated list of the current members can be found at the IHTSDO web page ( Members of the IHTSDO can be either an agency of a national government or another body endorsed by an appropriate national government authority within the country it represents. The IHTSDO welcomes new Members.
The IHTSDO Members pay a fee, based on national wealth, to the IHTSDO which gives them the right to a seat on the General Assembly. IHTSDO does not charge Affiliate Licensees for use of the SNOMED CT International Edition within Member countries. Licensing is also free in the poorest countries and for certain approved public-good uses in other countries. In other cases, low-cost per-institution charges apply to the use of SNOMED CT in operational systems involved in data creation and/or analysis. All use of SNOMED CT is subject to the acceptance of the terms of the SNOMED CT Affiliate License agreement ( and the terms of sublicenses issued to end-user organizations by Affiliate Licensees. Members may also impose additional conditions on use of SNOMED CT within their countries. For example, a Member may require licensees to support and include its National Extension in its implementations.

IHTSDO governance

The highest governance body of the IHTSDO is the General Assembly which includes a formally appointed representative of each IHTSDO Member. The General Assembly appoints a Management Board which directs the Association and has responsibility for key business decisions. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is appointed by the Management Board and has day-to-day responsibility for the conduct of the business. The CEO is supported by a team of senior staff responsible for particular lines of business.

IHTSDO advisory bodies

Standing Committees

The IHTSDO has four Standing Committees which provide advice to the Management Board. Committee members are elected by the General Assembly. They meet face to face twice a year, and between those meetings have regular conference calls. Meetings of these committees are generally open to observers.
Content Committee: Is responsible for providing advice on issues related to the definition and maintenance of the clinical content and structure of SNOMED CT and its related standards.
Implementation and Education Committee: Is responsible for providing advice, assistance and education to enable effective practical implementation of SNOMED CT in ways that aid the management of clinical information and assist clinical decision making.
Quality Assurance Committee: Is responsible for the development and quality assurance of SNOMED CT and its related standards and the Association's other Terminology Products in harmony with proper respect to external standards.
Technical Committee: Is responsible for focusing on technology related issues relating to the use and application of SNOMED CT, the fitness for purpose of frameworks and tools adopted in the application of SNOMED CT.

Working Groups

Working groups include

  • Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which are open forums that examine issues on particular topics or healthcare specialty areas; and
  • Project Groups which have defined time-limited objectives.

There are two distinct types of Special Interest Group

  • Topic Based SIGs cover a general topic area (e.g. implementation, translation) and report to one of the Standing Committees; and
  • Professional Specialty SIGs focus on requirements of a particular clinical discipline or specialty (e.g. Nursing, Anesthesia). These SIGs report to the Healthcare Professional Coordination Group which includes the chairs of each of the professional SIGs.

To join a Special Interest Group or to access information about one of the other groups you need to create an account on the IHTSDO Collaborative Space (see

National release centers

IHTSDO Members undertake a range of activities related to their involvement in the IHTSDO and their role in distributing, extending and supporting the use of SNOMED CT in their country. The Organisation or agency that coordinates this role in each country is referred to as a National Release Centre (NRC). National Release Centers provide a single point of contact for communications with IHTSDO and other IHTSDO Members. Within their own countries, NRCs manage the use of SNOMED CT and communicate with a range of stakeholders, including SNOMED CT Affiliate Licensees, healthcare institutions, clinical groups and end users.

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