Collaboration Details

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Title of Collaborative Activity:

Standardized Machine-Readable Units of Measure

Description of Collaborative Activity:

Historically, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has been at the nexus of standards needed to make clinical data flow to and from sources for clinical care, biomedical research, and epidemiologic databases. The big new research initiatives such as PCORI, Precision medicine, and the Cancer Moonshot depend heavily on efficient access to rich clinical data. A core problem of clinical data science is the prevalence of local and idiosyncratic coding systems used by individual care institutions. The major enabler of the use of big clinical Data is the standardization of the coding systems and formats (i.e. message standards) that clinical organizations use. On the coding system side, we have been developing, disseminating, and facilitating the adoption of universal standards, i.e., Unified Code for Units of Measure (UCUM) for units of measure so that clinical measures that different institutions report in different units of measure could be converted to a single unit of measure, which would simplify their use in care and research. We are working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to promote the use of UCUM as a replacement for ISO-8000. We have also developed a web-based open source tool to enable the conversion of units of measure to standard machine-readable format using UCUM.

Type of Collaborative Activity:

Committee, Advisory Group, or Work Group

Year the Collaborative Activity Originated:


NIH Participating Institutes/Centers/Office of the Director:


HHS Agency Collaborators on this Activity: