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The HL7 Interoperability Conference - IHIC 2008

Publication date: May 30, 2008

In October 2008, another IHIC conference will be held. IHIC is the "International HL7 Interoperability Conference" aimed at those that use HL7 standards. Not those that develop HL7 standards (there are other meetings for that purpose), but aimed at implementers.

To quote Kai Heitmann, Director International Affiliates of HL7 International, "[Good] standards in healthcare are characterized by well-written specifications but most of all by well-working implementations. Groups from around the globe have implemented HL7's healthcare information technology standards for global interoperability. Some countries have chosen the HL7 Version 3 family of standards as a strategy for healthcare communications in their respective countries. We want to share with you experiences with implementation of HL7, no matter where implemented and regardless of the scale of the projects or financial background. "

The target audience of the International HL7 Interoperability Conference (IHIC) is an interesting mix of representatives of healthcare ministries, application architects, software programmers, healthcare providers, and academics. The conference agenda caters to all - and leaves plenty of time for hallway conversations and other less formal exchanges of experiences.

I'll highlight some of the topics on the IHIC agenda.

One of the key objectives of the IHIC is sharing HL7 V3 implementation experience from around the world and the HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) is a foundational component of many of those V3 exchanges. A prominent place on the agenda has been reserved for the "Show me your CDA!” project. As part of that project CDA implementers are encouraged to share information, using a tool created by IHIC which helps in the collection process of implementation experiences.

"People will have the opportunity to learn from each other [..], and by sharing experiences they will be able to advance interoperability" says Catherine Chronaki, member of the organizing committee, when asked about the purpose of this part of the agenda. "People will have the opportunity to explain what the business case was, and how they addressed [it]" "We will use [the collected information about CDA implementations] in the conference to share experiences and to unveil best practices."

Another part of the draft conference agenda is about IHE. Especially IHE's XDS-profile is a framework that is quite often used (or: considered) when exchanging CDA documents. Catherine, speaking about IHE: "You need to develop the processes [..], and implement them in a way that is interoperable. One and the same predictable functionality in all circumstances. And that is what IHE is providing. " She continues with "IHE says [to software vendors], you know, you are saying that you are implementing these standards, but you have to prove it" and points out that there are lessons to be learned from the testing methods used by IHE.
The IHE testing methodology and the IHE testing tools will be presented during the IHIC.

The first part of the interview (focusing on CDA and IHE) with Catherine Chronaki can be found here:

An IHIC topic of a less technical nature is business models for large scale deployment. "With large scale deployment we mean national, or trans-national, developments", says Catherine, and points out that "right now this is a big issue in Europe, [..] each of the European states deals with healthcare on its own. This is not something that is coordinated at the European level. [..] It makes sense to be able to address the issue of providing and seeking cross-border services, [..] people are moving around Europe more and more".

The European Union has started some projects in this area, to research the issue of eSummary and ePrescription. These are seen as key services at the European level. "[What] is important is the issue of harmonization, so that these [services] cost less, and healthcare is more effective, and information and communication technology is key to achieving this objective."

The second part of the interview (focusing on large scale deployment, and on the location of the IHIC conference) with Catherine can be found here:

The IHIC conference will be held between October 8 and 11 in Crete, and is organized by HL7 Hellas, the Greek HL7 country organization.

I hope to see you there, to share HL7 implementation experiences, and to catch a bit of sun on the beaches of Crete.


By the way: the proceedings of the most recent IHIC conferences can be found here: IHIC 2007 and IHIC 2006.

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Ringholm bv is a group of European experts in the field of messaging standards and systems integration in healthcare IT. We provide the industry's most advanced training courses and consulting on healthcare information exchange standards.
See http://www.ringholm.com or call +31 33 7 630 636 for additional information.
Rene's Column (English) Rene is the Tutor-in-chief of Ringholm.