Friday, April 9, 2010

Confusion reigns--and remains--about SNOMED CT licensing

On a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium call about data standards and interoperability, participants raised numerous questions about the allowable uses of SNOMED CT in the applications they are developing to facilitate translational science.

If I develop a web application that uses SNOMED CT codes under the covers, may I allow users in a country without a SNOMED CT license to access it?

If I develop a subset of SNOMED CT codes (sometimes also known as a "value set") to serve as the set of answers to an online survey question, can I publish this subset for others to use (thereby facilitating interoperability among surveys)?

By the end of the call, attendees had more questions than answers.

Wouldn't the open approach taken by the Open Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) Foundry serve the purpose of interoperability better? Shouldn't the United States redirect at least some of its investment in SNOMED CT into truly open standards?