ISO-16278 Health informatics - Categorial structure for terminological systems of human anatomy


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ISO 16278:2016 defines the characteristics required to synthetically describe the organization and content of human anatomy within a terminological system. It is intended primarily for use with computer-based applications such as clinical electronic health records, decision support and for various bio-medical research purposes.

ISO 16278:2016 will serve to

- facilitate the construction of new terminological systems in a regular form which will increase their coherence and expressiveness,

- facilitate maintenance of human anatomy within terminological systems,

- increase consistency and coherence of existing terminological system,

- allow systematic cross-references between items of human anatomy in different types of terminological systems,

- facilitate convergence among human anatomy within terminological systems,

- make explicit the overlap for human anatomy between different health care domains terminological systems,

- provide elements for negotiation about integration of different terminological systems into information systems between the respective developers, and

- enable the systematic evaluation of human anatomy within terminological systems.

ISO 16278:2016 itself is not suitable or intended for use by, individual clinicians or hospital administrators.

The target groups for this International Standard are the following:

- designers of specialized standard healthcare terminological categorial structures;

- developers of healthcare terminological systems including classifications and coding systems;

- producers of services for terminological systems and designers of software including natural language processing;

- information modellers, knowledge engineers, and standards developers building models for health information management systems;

- developers of information systems that require an explicit representation of healthcare terminological systems;

- developers of marked-up standards for representation of healthcare documents.

ISO 16278:2016 does not include categorial structure that might be necessary for the description of developmental anatomy during the human life cycle, which includes prenatal development, post-natal growth and aging.

ISO 16278:2016 has been developed for use as an integrated part of computer-based applications and for the electronic healthcare record. It would be of limited value for manual use.

It is not the purpose of this International Standard to standardize the end user classification of human anatomy terminology or to conflict with the concept systems embedded in national practice and languages.




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Document Number

ISO 16278:2016

Revision Level




Publication Date

March 1, 2016

Committee Number

ISO/TC 215