Join Us at HIMSS 2024

Apelon is excited to attend the HIMSS 2024 Global Conference in Orlando this March! Want to connect face-to-face? Reach out to and we will be excited to set up a meeting at the conference or offsite.

Congratulations Betsy Humphreys!

Apelon congratulates Betsy Humphreys on her appointment as Acting Director of the National Library of Medicine. Betsy has been a leader in interoperability and in advancing the science and the adoption of controlled vocabulary throughout my informatics career. When Apelon (in the person of our predecessor Lexical Technology) got involved in the initial efforts leading to the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), Betsy was a firm hand on the wheel, keeping the project grounded in practical reality rather than allowing some of the more “novel” ideas to drive the project back into the bowels of a university. Today, working not only inside NLM but also on the national and international stage, she continues to advocate for an information ecosystem that makes sense for patients and providers.

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DTS 4 Production Release, Now Available

Apelon is very pleased to announce general availability of Version 4.0 of the Distributed Terminology System (DTS). For over fifteen years, DTS has been the industry’s leading vocabulary server supporting the creation, maintenance and deployment of healthcare terminologies. Recently made available as an open source project, DTS is a comprehensive solution for the deployment of standardized terminologies, with local enhancements, into distributed application environments. DTS creates a platform for robust data standardization and interoperability for EHRs, HIEs, and decision support systems by establishing a single common resource for an organization’s terminology assets. Being open source, DTS also provides significant cost, integration and adoption advantages compared to proprietary solutions.

DTS Version 4 is a major new release that enhances both functional capabilities and ease-of-use. Key features include:

  • A New Enterprise Architecture – The DTS server has been completely rewritten to use Enterprise JavaBeans 3 (EJB) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This architecture simplifies many operational aspects of DTS and provides enhanced security and transaction options. Comprehensive web service, Java, and .NET APIs are available and most popular backend RDBMS systems are supported.
  • Versioning – Version 4 extends the DTS Object Model to support the complete history (versioning) of Namespaces and Subsets: e.g., what did SNOMED CT look like in 2009? Search and browse functions can specify the desired version/date and concept comparison and full historical views are supported. Locally-developed Namespaces and Subsets can be “published”, creating a new, finalized version for distribution while enabling development to continue on the “working” version.
  • New Metadata – User-definable metadata can now be added to Namespaces, Versions, and Authorities. Metadata additions are available for both Subscription and Local DTS Objects.
  • Enhanced Subsets/Value Sets -Subset Expressions are significantly more expressive supporting multiple namespaces and/or subsets, specification of Namespace and Subset versions, and support for association-based hierarchies for Thesaurus Namespaces.
  • Role-based access control.
  • New Browser Implementation – Version 4 introduces a new DTS Browser, based on the JavaServer Faces 2 architecture and RichFaces 4 framework. This new framework will support enhanced web browsing and migration of editing functions to a web platform.
  • Editor Module Architecture – The DTS Editor provides extensive support of Version 4 features. The Search, Browse and Detail panels, for example, all support one-click selection and viewing of version snapshots of DTS objects. The Version 4 DTS Editor extends its popular Plug-in Framework to a new Module Framework making all Editor functionality available through independent Modules; the Editor layout can be completely customized for specific user requirements. Role-based access control has been added and the Editor has been enhanced for internationalization; prompts and messages have been relocated to a Locale-dependent Resources file permitting translation of the GUI into many non-English languages.

For existing DTS users, the DTS API is fully backwards compatible, and a Migration Utility is available for transferring local content from DTS Version 3.5.2. See theDTS 4 Installation Guide for further information.

DTS Version 4.0 is ready for your evaluation, testing and deployment at We look forward to your feedback

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DTS 4.0 Alpha 3 Release, Now Available

We’re very pleased to announce availability of the DTS 4.0 Alpha 3 release. The Alpha 3 release is the final Alpha release of DTS Version 4. The next release will be a full functionality Beta release available this summer. New features in Alpha 3 include enhanced DTS Subsets, Namespace Root specification, and Namespace and Subset Publishing.

Version 4 adds significant new functionality to DTS Subsets. Like Namespaces, Subsets now can have Properties and are versioned. Subset Versions themselves can have Properties and the Subset Expression is associated with a Version. Subset Expressions are also much richer, supporting multiple Namespace and Subset filters in addition to the familiar Concept, Concept Name and Attribute Filters. Namespace and Subset filters can also be nested under other filters. Descendant and Children options in the Concept Filter are now available for Thesaurus Namespaces (using the “Parent Of” association).

For a full list of the new features and additional information on DTS 4.0 or to download the Alpha 3 release, visit

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DTS 4.0 Beta 1 Release, Now Available

We are all very excited about the release of a full-functionality build of DTS Version 4. The feedback from our early adopters has been very positive, validating the extensive effort to create a next-generation vision for DTS. While development on Version 4 will continue, to correct outstanding bugs and complete documentation, we do not expect any major functional changes.

You already know the major features of Version 4: J2E architecture, web service APIs, version management, metadata and new Subset/Value Set capabilities. These capabilities get most of attention. But what excites Dr. DiTS, are the new features of the DTS Editor. Since these don’t get the publicity of “the big guys”, we are pleased to share Dr. DiTS’sTop Ten Things to Try in DTS 4. Next time you’re in the Editor give these a try.

  1. Don’t like clicking on Connect all the time? Check the “Auto-connect …” box in the Connect Parameters dialog and DTS will automatically connect to your database when it starts.
  2. Would you like the Tree panel display to use another display name, or sort differently? Right click in the panel and select the Tree Config option. Display SNOMED using the Preferred Term, or ICD-9-CM using its Code in Source.
  3. Want to see where a Concept fits into a hierarchy? Drop the Concept into the Tree panel’s main window (not the Focus box).
  4. Need to review a large number of Search matches? Page through the matches using the arrows at the bottom of the panel. And check out the result Tool Tips to see where the match occurred (especially helpful on Synonym and Attribute searches).
  5. Wondering what Concepts use a Term? Drag the Term into the Detail panel (maybe from a Concept Synonym) and view the Inverse Synonyms.
  6. Don’t want to have to right click to edit Attributes in the Detail panel? Double click on the Attribute to open the Attribute’s editor.
  7. Need to add a new Root Concept to your Thesaurus Namespace? Drag the Namespace into the Detail panel (or open the Namespace Editor panel), right click on the Working Version and select Add Root.
  8. Want to get a hardcopy of a Concept’s contents? Right click on Concept’s name in the Detail panel and select Print Details.
  9. Need to create a sophisticated Value Set? Use the Subset Editor to create an Expression that includes two different Namespace Filters. Or two Subset Filters. Or even one that excludes one Subset from another Subset.
  10. Want to change the string associated with Copy on a Concept Name? Open the Set Clipboard Formats panel from the Options menu and add the Concept’s Namespace name to the format.
  11. Have to see how SNOMED Concepts have changed over time? Drag a Concept into the Concept History panel to see attribute changes across all versions or into the Concept Compare panel for a detailed comparison between two versions.
  12. Tired of the same old DTS Editor layout? Edit dtslayout.xml in bineditor to remove some panels or build an alternate 2×2 panel structure.
  13. Learning a new language? Create a French DTS Editor by translating in the lib directory. Or see how DTS looks right-to-left by creating a Hebrew translation. Check out the sample screen shot below and see theInternationalizing the DTS Editor document for more info.

Okay, so Dr. DiTS couldn’t keep it to just ten.

That’s it for this month. Time to get back to DTS 4! 

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Government Agencies

Apelon creates semantic frameworks and offers interoperability guidance to national and regional government agencies in the US and around the world. 

Some of the most important and cutting-edge work in health data sharing and standards adoption has come from government initiatives in the US and elsewhere. Governments have been able to make the case for interoperability more easily than many private entities, since the responsibility for improved health outcomes ultimately falls to the public sector. Implementing a semantic framework based on standard terminology and message standards can improve care and reduce waste, making the most of every taxpayer dollar, peso or pound.

In the US, we’ve worked for Federal Agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Library of Medicine, National Cancer Institute, the NIH Clinical Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many others. Outside the US, we’ve been active in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Rwanda, the Philippines and more. Download our GSA Schedule to seee how easy it is for US Government agencies to do business with Apelon. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help your agency leverage the power of structured vocabulary at the local, regional or national level.

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Terminology Developers

Over the years, Apelon has helped create and manage SNOMED CT, ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, and many more. We can help you manage your internal terminology needs, too.

The best answer is to just use an externally produced standard terminology… why reinvent the wheel? One answer we hear over and over is that the available wheels just don’t fit. Your business has unique aspects, legacy processes, and user expectations that today’s vocabularies can’t manage, so you’ve built your own. 

We’ve been doing terminology for a long time: from our early days building the Unified Medical Language System for the US National Library of Medicine to our work on niche vocabularies for cancer research, eye care and other specialties, to our long partnerships with the care providers who use standards in their practice, we’ve developed a wealth of experience and expertise.

Today, our consulting team can put that expertise to work for you. We can help you extend an existing standard, integrate your legacy ontologies, or build a new international standard from scratch. We offer services to optimize each phase of the terminology development lifecycle. And, because we aren’t tied to a particular software system (our flagship DTS is open source and freely available), you can count on us to give you unbiased advice.

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Electronic Medical Record Vendors

Apelon can help you solve your product’s terminology problem with terminology server software, strategic planning, and client provisioning.

Smart use of standard terminology and information standards is emerging as a key differentiator among electronic medical records vendors. Whether you offer a do-it-all hospital-based EMR or an outpatient specialty product, your users expect their documentation to be standards-compliant for interoperability and analytics. At the same time, the system must be easy to use, and must fit intuitively within an existing practice.

One of the easiest ways to lose a user… or a potential user… is to make them decipher your developers’ acronyms, misspellings, and proprietary jargon. Instead, you need to show them industry-standard terminology where it matters… for interoperability, population health, and analytics applications… and also show them a customizable, clinician-friendly interface for data capture and patient communications.

We can help you do both. Apelon’s terminology and interoperability solutions and our experienced consulting team can help you set up and sustain a semantic infrastructure that links the easy-to-use part with the consistent, interoperable part. We’ll show you how to combine today’s powerful clinical terminologies (including SNOMED CT, LOINC, RadLex, and others) with required billing and electronic data interchange codes (ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, UB-04) and clinician-friendly interface terms in ways that turn your electronic data from an expensive headache to a powerful patient engagement asset.

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Health Information Exchanges

Health Information Exchanges make it possible to share health information. Apelon makes that information meaningful with standard terminologies.

How? Mapping!

Mapping — if locally collected lab results, medication orders, allergy info and other key patient data points are connected a standard terminology, then every health information exchange participant gets maximum value. If the goal is to reduce duplicate care, it’s imperative to know what care has already been delivered. If the goal is to identify high-risk or high-utilization patients, you need to identify conditions and usage patterns across the entire health system. One way is to simply memorize every datum on every patient, and of course every idiosyncratic turn of phrase used in every record. Another way is to create a targeted mapping from local codes to standards. If you think that might be easier, Apelon offers tools and services ranging from assistance with legacy spreadsheet catalogs (take a look at TermWorks), to TermManager, a Web-based mapping system for small and midsize projects to facilitation of your high-volume real-time mappings using Symedical.

Ok, We’ll Take One…

While there are many mappings available, there’s no single “right” mapping for all uses, because the terminologies reflect the flexibility of the language, and different words are appropriate in different contexts. Apelon’s professional services team can help guide you through the process of selecting and implementing a prebuilt mapping, as well as to customize that map to meet your needs. 

Of course, we also have a team of clinical informatics professionals… pharmacists, medical technologists, physicians, and more… who can do the mapping for you.

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