HL7 Terminology Authority (HTA)
All HL7 standards are built for communication purposes. They contain descriptions of entities to be used and these are filled with content from whatever source. Sometimes it can be plain text, sometimes it has a specific meaning, but most of the time it contains codes and descriptions.
In that case codes are used which are either developed by HL7, or codes are developed by the users or codes are derived from external code or terminology systems.
Now, after more than 25 years, we are confronted with a number of layered problems.
- The HL7 standards have been developed in different phases and for different purposes. That caused variations in tables that were probably meant to be duplicated or to be harmonized.
- There is an increase of SDO's in the area of vocabularies and clinical terminologies. The use of these come with specific demands, models and precise linguistic technology.
- Licensed users of terminology standards want to use that terminology as a replacement for the codes that are still in use or have been used.
The HL7 terminology authority (HTA) has been created
- to cope with these problems, and
- to find strategies to solve them, and
- to prevent new mismatches in the future.
Interoperability requires consistent representation of meaning in information models and terminology models across the family of HL7 standards.
It is the purpose of the HL7 Terminology Authority to ensure that HL7 standards are provided with timely and high quality terminology products and services to meet its business needs.
As a representative body of HL7 International (HL7) the HL7 Terminology Authority acts as the point of communication concerning terminology and / or code systems with other Standard Development Organizations and with the Working Groups within the HL7 organization.
The Terminology Authority is concerned with coded content and descriptions specified in HL7 Standards about choices, composition, use, meaning and interpretation.
The scope of responsibility of the HL7 Terminology Authority includes:
- Provide advice, where needed, on the acceptability of vocabulary proposed for inclusion in HL7 vocabulary (NOT "infrastructure controlling" vocabulary, e.g. CS data type
- Provide advice on the tooling requirements to meet the objective of consistency of meaning representation across HL7 products.
- Provide advice to support the governance of terminology content across HL7 standards.
- Develop and maintain HL7 quality processes and measures related to HL7 terminology to support interoperability and clarity of meaning across HL7 standards.
- Develop quality standards for a licensed user community when using external terminology systems in HL7 standards support sustainable interpretation of that terminology.
- Prepare updates to the GOM for consideration by the TSC / Board regarding terminology use and development in HL7 products.
- Maintain relationships with external terminology providing standards development organizations to ensure legal and safe use of their products in HL7 standards.
- Provide guidance to the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) on the implementation processes and policy changes that impact the Working Groups (see GOM definition of the Working Group).
- Work with the Vocabulary Working Group who will implement the processes and governance.
Terminology Policies and Guidance
Click here HTA Policies to review the HTA approved policies related to terminology
Requests for new or changed SNOMED CT content 
Questions and Suggestions
Questions or suggestions can be sent to the HL7 Terminology Authority by sending email to HTA@HL7.org
- Heather Grain
- eHealth Education
- Phone: AUS +61 3-956-99443
- email: Heather.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sandra Stuart
- Kaiser Permanente
- Phone: 925.924.7473
- Email: Liora.Alschuler@lantanagroup.com
Working Group Meetings
- The HTA meets on Friday Q1- Q2 at the Working Group meetings.
- Meeting minutes  are available from the HTA page on HL7.org
The HTA convenes conference calls scheduled every other Tuesday at 2pm Eastern USA time (UTC -4)