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About standards

What we mean by standards

This service contains data standards, which we group into 4 categories:

  • record standards define what information to collect and how to format it, for example when registering a new patient

Browse record standards.

  • data definitions and terminologies define the format of data items so they can be consistently represented, for example names of medications. Reference sets and controlled lists and also included.

Browse data definitions and terminologies.

  • technical standards and specifications specify how to make information available technically including how the data is structured and transported

Browse technical standards and specifications.

  • information codes of practice are legal or best practice guidelines on how information should be handled

Browse information codes of practice.

Not every standard that exists is listed in this service. You can find out which standards are included.

Benefits of using standards

There are many benefits to using data standards including:

  • it’s more efficient to reuse existing approaches to recording or exchanging data than creating new ones
  • it promotes quality by ensuring all care settings are aligned to standards that have been approved by qualified bodies
  • it makes it easier to analyse data at the national level and see trends or problems if the data has all been standardised
  • it is essential to achieving interoperability, which would allow IT systems across the country to share data. An example of this is hospitals being able to update GP records directly using their own systems instead of sending emails

Report a gap in standards

Work is underway to publish a process for people developing new data standards.

In the meantime, please notify us of plans to create new standards by emailing Local standards that apply at the national level may be uplifted for national use.