Sunday, September 4, 2011

HL7-v3 thoughts

I was less than 3 weeks on vacation with my 20-year old son, doing some fine mountaineering in the neighbourhood of Chamonix at the foot of the Mont Blanc. Together, we climbed his second 4000 meter peak, for me it was probably my last (getting older ...).
But in these 3 weeks a lot seem to have happened in the HL7 world.
First there was the announcement that the UK is scrapping its National Health IT Network, which did run for 9 years and costed 18.7 billion dollars (about 360$ per resident). You can find the article here. The program has for many years been criticized, including for its choice of HL7-v3 as the basis for electronic health records (EHRs) and the false belief that this standard would solve all problems at once.
Then there was the series of blog articles of Graham Grieve, titled "v3 has failed?". For your reference, Graham is one of the main contributors to the HL7-v3 standard. HL7-v3 has always been criticized to be overcomplicated and difficult and expensive to implement, and also I (as an XML specialist) have a lot of comments on the clumsy way it has been implemented in XML.
But now HL7 has started the "fresh look task force", so there is some hope that within a number of years (I guess 5 at minimum) there is a standard for exchange of health care data that is easy to understand, clear, and easy to implement (the latter also meaning "cheap" to implement).

Now, I will soon start working in a number of projects where CDA (which is based on Hl7-v3) is the basis of everything (more about that in a future post). CDA is there and is being successfully used in EHR systems, though it is not at all perfect (the XML is still very clumsy) and not easy to implement either. But it works, somehow.
I then also hope to be able to contribute, as an XML specialist, to the "HL7 fresh look task force", so thus starting contributing positively rather than critisizing this standard.


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