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Data Standards team

Our Data Standards team works on national and international standards for recording and categorising information.

Developing these standards supports:

  • care delivery
  • statistical analysis
  • research 
  • reimbursement of health and care providers.

When data is collected using effective data standards, every subsequent step in the lifecycle (assembly, analysis and interpretation, distribution and change) is made easier for each system and organisation involved. This helps improve patient outcomes with better quality data for primary and secondary uses.

Effective data standards benefit the health and care system in various ways:

  • vital information can be shared consistently within and across health and care settings to support delivery of high quality care
  • comprehensive and high quality information supports clinical decision making - it can support more extensive clinical audit and research to enhance the evidence base
  • reducing the risk of misinterpretation of records in different care settings leads to improved patient safety and care.

Interoperability is the ability for products or systems to function with other products or systems in an unrestricted way. A lack of interoperability limits the exchange of information, has a negative effect on the care of patients and is inefficient for system users. Good data standards enable systems to be designed to interoperate with other products or systems.

The team also provides the development, maintenance and support of NHS Information Standards, listing them within the online Data Dictionary.

Our Diagnostics Data Service team are working to improve the information quality of diagnostics service outputs to improve the provision of healthcare in the NHS.

Diagnostics services include:

  • pathology
  • endoscopy
  • imaging
  • physiological measures
  • genomics.

Terminology products

The core terminology products in the team are SNOMED CT and the dictionary of medicines and medical devices (dm+d)

Snomed CT

SNOMED CT is a structured clinical vocabulary for use in an electronic health record. It represents care information in a clear, consistent, and comprehensive manner.

It is being implemented in primary care using a phased approach, which started in April 2018. Other systems involved in direct patient care should implement SNOMED CT before 1 April 2020.

Dictionary of medicines and medical devices (dm+d)

The dm+d provides:

  • a unique SNOMED CT code for all drugs and devices
  • a standard description for all drugs and devices
  • additional coded information related to each device.

dm+d is used within:

  • Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
  • electronic prescribing and medicines administration
  • pharmacy distribution
  • Summary Care Records (SCR)
  • eDischarge (hospitals communicating with primary care)
  • GP2GP (general practitioner transfer of patients between practices)
  • electronic Yellow Card Scheme (for notifications about adverse drug reactions)
  • data extraction
  • data reporting.

It is covered by the SCCI0052 standard and the implementation date for this standard in all NHS systems was 30 June 2017.


The clinical classifications OPCS-4 (for interventions and surgical procedures) and ICD-10 (for diagnoses) are NHS Information Standards. Both are mandated nationally for use across the NHS and consist of groupings of concepts (codes), plus definitions and business rules for their use.

Once clinical information is coded using these national classifications, it’s then used in an aggregated, non-identifiable form to enable:

  • statistical and epidemiological analysis
  • reimbursement of hospitals
  • planning of health and care services.

NHS Data Model and Dictionary Service

The NHS Data Model and Dictionary Service is responsible for the development, maintenance and support of NHS Information Standards, contained in the NHS Data Model and Data Dictionary. This provides a reference point for approved Information Standards Notices to support health care activities across the NHS in England.

Data Standards Assurance Service

The Data Standards Assurance Service (DSAS) is hosted by our organisation. It supports the Data Alliance Partnership Board (DAPB) and the Data Alliance Partnership Sub Board (DAPSB) in providing detailed assurance and appraisal of proposals for Information Standards, Data Collections and Data Extractions (ISCE), including those requiring publication under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

DSAS ensures that, within the development of an ISCE:

  • all obligations under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 have been met by the developer
  • any burden on the system is acceptable in relation to benefits
  • the assured ISCE is aligned and complies with existing published standards
  • risks and impacts are considered, addressed and mitigated, within the development of the ISCE
  • the ISCE can be implemented across the system
  • any data required to flow across the system because of the ISCE has a legal basis, addresses any information governance requirements and ensures that fair processing has been considered

The DAPSB, after scrutiny of DSAS assurance and appraisal of the proposal, provides the authority to proceed.

Health and care organisations in England (including adult social care) must pay regard to information standards published under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Ministry of Defence Medical Services Activities

Our Defence Medical Services (DMS) team provide consultancy support to the Ministry of Defence around delivery of Armed Forces healthcare.

Last edited: 3 June 2021 10:04 am