Apelon’s History

Apelon, then called Lexical Technology, began in 1984 working under contract to the US National Library of Medicine to develop and maintain the UMLS, a search engine for medical literature. For the next several decades the company focused on development of what are now known as reference terminologies. Apelon’s TDE software – Terminology Development Environment, now retired – was used in the construction of several standards. (For example, TDE was used to build SNOMED CT as far back as when SNOMED CT was owned by the College of American Pathologists.) Suffice to say: we are intimately familiar with the reference terminologies.

As the major standard terminologies came to usable state, Apelon’s focus shifted toward maintenance and deployments. Our current flagship software, known as DTS – Distributed Terminology System (originally developed to support Kaiser Permanente terminology infrastructure) – has been regularly improved with typically two major releases each year. DTS is open source, but the code base is maintained entirely in-house. Among significant users is Apelon’s professional services team, who work as consultants to and surge staff for Apelon clients. During the last decade Apelon has gradually transitioned from the majority of its business being domestic government agencies to a broader commercial and international base. Software income is mostly the ‘red hat’ model, revenue derived from support services and content subscriptions. Professional services top line has grown to exceed the recurring base. Almost all our consulting work utilizes DTS and other in-house tools, which assures the software remains pertinent. Somewhat ironically, DTS now has much of the authoring functionality pioneered by TDE, as development of new sets and refinements of existing schemes continues alongside integration with standards. Apelon is probably best thought of as serving the middle market, DTS being a tool for relatively experienced users. It is not reasonable for Apelon to support all needs along the continuum. Instead, we have partnered with Clinical Architecture, whose products support very large scale deployments, and we actively support OpenHIE, whose focus is LDCs.

Apelon is a private company, primarily owned by current and past employees. (A small common position is owned by the remnants of a late 1990s experiment with private equity.) The home office is outside Boston Massachusetts. Most employees work remotely, a practice we perfected long before the WFH trend. Apelon has a historic and ongoing strong commitment to R&D, and our employees are regular participants, sometimes leaders, in AMIA, HL7, ISO, IHTSDO, HITSC, and other forums. Apelon’s personnel: computer scientists, medical informaticists, and clinicians, are recognized experts in vocabulary technology, dedicated to providing practical healthcare information solutions. Open positions are posted on LinkedIn and interested professionals are warmly encouraged to apply.

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