What is an SDO?

A standards organisation, standards body, standards development organisation (SDO) or standards setting organisation is focused on:

  • Developing
  • Coordinating
  • Promulgating
  • Revising
  • Amending
  • Reissuing
  • Interpreting
  • or otherwise producing standards that are intended to address the needs of some relatively wide base of affected adopters.

In order to be recognized as an SDO, an organization may be accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Standards are also developed by other groups such as trade unions or associations. The development and adoption of open, consensus-based standards can be a complex process involving many different stakeholders and subject matter experts.

There are over 40 different SDOs in the health IT arena. Some entities create standards, such as Health Level Seven (HL7), Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) International, and the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC).

Others, like Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), do not develop new standards, but rather bundle complementary base standards into IHE profiles that are used to define a specific function or use case, and then are balloted. This creates a scenario that helps drive adoption of the base standards by providing implementation guidance that describes how multiple standards can be used together to support interoperable health information exchange.

In order to understand the types of health data standards, they are grouped in categories:

Address the ability to represent concepts in an unambiguous manner between a sender and receiver of information, a fundamental requirement for effective communication. Health information systems that communicate with each other rely on structured vocabularies, terminologies, code sets and classification systems to represent health concepts.

Relates to the data content within exchanges of information. They define the structure and organisation of the electronic message or document’s content. This standard category also includes the definition of common sets of data for specific message types.

Addresses the format of messages exchanged between computer systems, document architecture, clinical templates, user interface and patient data linkage. Standards center on “push” and “pull” methods for exchanging health information.

Aim to protect an individual’s (or organisation’s) right to determine whether, what, when, by whom and for what purpose their personal health information is collected, accessed, used or disclosed. Security standards define a set of administrative, physical and technical actions to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of health information.

Standard Development Organisations

Here are some examples of SDOs and their standards with a clear clinical or patient benefit

coming soon