Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below we have compiled a list of questions most often asked about OCL and related tools. If you have any questions still lingering, please feel free to reach out to us via our Contact Form.

What is the Open Concept Lab (OCL)?

OCL is an open-source terminology management platform to help collaboratively manage, publish, and use metadata in the cloud alongside the global community.

This collaborative terminology management platform helps organizations realize the benefit of health information standards and makes this content available to implementers everywhere.

OCL is more than a set of open-source cloud based tools that supports health care terminology. It is a community of terminologists, developers and implementers that help to collaboratively manage, publish and use metadata in the cloud within the global community.

How can I join the OCL Community?

Currently, interested persons can join the OCL community by participating in the OCL community calls: Architecture Community Call, Developer Community Call, and  the OpenHIE Terminology Service Community. Github is another great starting point where you can find a number of active “Pinned” repositories that focus on key work streams and tools.

You can also keep up with the latest OCL happenings via email by adding yourself to the mailing list.

What is the OCL Toolset?


The following are the OCL tools as described in the above graphic:

  • The OCL TermBrowser is the primary tool for searching terminology and other metadata loaded into OCL.
  • The OCL Terminology Service is the back-bone of the OCL Toolkit. It is an open-source solution for the management and publication of standardized and local terminologies.
  • The OpenMRS Dictionary Manager client focuses on the workflow of an OpenMRS Implementer who is managing her OpenMRS dictionary within OCL, drawing on concepts & mappings from CIEL, and synchronizing the concept collection as a dictionary on one or more OpenMRS server(s).
  • OCL Online is the online instance for hosting your terminology service needs in the cloud, without needing to download the software to a private server.
Can I host my own instance of the OCL Terminology System?

Implementers have two options when using OCL: (1) cloud-based OCL Online, or (2) self-hosting. We generally recommend that you start with the cloud-hosted OCL Online and only move to self-hosted if you have an actual project need (e.g. using a terminology service to process a high volume of data exchange transactions). Even then, an implementer may benefit from continuing to manage content in OCL Online and simply push the content to a local terminology service for transactional support. 

  1. Cloud-based OCL Online: One of the main values of OCL is collaborative management of terminology content, where you can take advantage of community-defined content and up-to-date reference terminologies, like LOINC or CIEL, that are maintained by the OCL team. Using OCL Online also alleviates the need to set up your own infrastructure. OCL Online supports all of the same terminology service transactions as a self-host, it is not suited for a high volume transactional support.
  2. Self-host: Self-hosting is best suited for implementers that require a high volume of data exchange transactions that are hitting the terminology service. The tradeoff is that in addition to managing your own content, you must also maintain the software and all of your reference content (e.g. SNOMED, LOINC, CIEL, etc.), which is an ongoing (not one-time) activity. 
Where can I access source code?

OCL’s source code is available on GitHub here: 

OCL’s source code is freely available under the Mozilla Public License v2 with a healthcare disclaimer.

What kind of terminologies and other related content can I find on OCL?

OCL functions similar to a GitHub specifically for health terminology. Meaning, anyone is free to load content, like a data dictionary or value set, to OCL and to make it publicly available.

The OCL team works to publish reference vocabularies, such as LOINC and SNOMED1 CT. OCL is also the primary distributor of the CIEL interface terminology, which is used as the basis of open concept dictionaries in many OpenMRS implementations throughout the world.