The changing role of HL7 country organizations
Publication date: Jul 16, 2010
The role of HL7 country organizations (affiliates) has changed over the past five years, the importance of being a platform for the exchange of experiences has increased, whilst their role in the creation of localized specifications has diminished.
HL7 country organizations, or 'affiliates' as HL7 calls them, used to have a pretty clear mandate:
HL7 version 2 has a fairly limited scope (it's limited to hospital internal workflows), and in the all-volunteer environment of HL7 the effort required was limited as well. The volunteers were mostly representatives of either hospitals or software vendors, i.e. those with a direct interest in the implementation of the standard.
- Localize (and potentially: translate) the HL7 version 2 standard for local use
- Ensure that all local requirements are met by the standard, and if not, bring forward and defend proposals to extend the standard
- Be an exchange platform for the exchange of implementation experiences
- Provide education in the form of training courses, brochures, conferences.
HL7 Norway expertteam, May 2010
HL7 currently has a wide range of standards, including HL7 version 3, functional models and service specifications. These standards (let's use HL7 version 3 as an example) are more complex and larger in size, and have more of a "toolbox" character: if for example a particular scenario isn't covered by the standard one can create one's own models. HL7 version 3 also has a scope that's much wider than HL7 version 2: it covers all healthcare processes.
The main stakeholders have changed as well: they now include governmental, regulatory and National health Infrastructure Network (NHIN) organizations.
HL7 Norway was created in April 2010. Espen Moller, the interim chair of HL7 Norway states that "the main incentive for becoming an affiliate was to have the ability to create our own implementation guides, and to build up knowledge about HL7, especially HL7 version 3 messaging."
Another key reason he mentions is the desire to have a platform, a focal point, for knowledge about HL7 version 3. At HL7 Working Group Meetings (where all HL7 country organizations meet and work on the creation of international standards) he values the "networking, knowledge building" and the fact that the meeting "important to get some perspective, to get input, on our own project".
"The world is smaller than we think, we're all working on similar issues". See below for the full interview.
So how has the role of an HL7 country organization changed? What are its responsibilities today?
- The work has become much larger in scope and is mostly done by an organizational stakeholder (e.g. a semi-governmental organization). That organization typically engages with the HL7 country organization: the level of engagement could vary from just asking them to review/ballot the localized specifications, up to full cooperation in the development of such specifications. The role of the HL7 country organizations when it comes to the development of localized specifications has diminished.
- The scope of the educational activities of the HL7 country organizations has had to be widened in scope: there are an increasing number of standards, with an increasing scope. In addition to that new educational channels have opened up such as e-learning, distance learning, 10 minute streaming videos, and trainer-lead classroom-style training. These new channels and a wider set of standards probably require more professionalization of the educational offerings. As such the role of the HL7 country organization (other than as the organization that outsources its educational efforts) is getting smaller.
- The role of "being an exchange platform for HL7 standards users" has increased. HL7 has always been an open standards environment where any and all could discuss the use and development of its standards. To me, engaging with other (national) standards organizations as well as (for more long term reasons) with HL7 organizations in other countries is an inherent part of offering a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences.
HL7 country organizations definitely have a role to play, but it has changed from the role it had up to about 5 years ago.
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Index of columns:
- HL7 Version 3 Tooling (Nov 16, 2022)
- Bye bye IHE XDS and CDA. (Sep 01, 2021)
- Combining the best of IHE XDS with HL7 FHIR (Jun 27, 2019)
- FHIR DevDays and the year in review (Dec 27, 2018)
- Creation and Curation of FHIR Profiles - process and governance (Dec 14, 2017)
- Impact of the GDPR on the use of interoperability standards (Jun 27, 2017)
- Next XDS Release (Oct 27, 2016)
- Five years of FHIR (Aug 11, 2016)
- Update from the trenches on CDA R2.1/R3 and HL7v2. (Oct 15, 2015)
- Most often implemented IHE Profiles (Jun 08, 2015)
- Mapping HL7v2 messages to FHIR. (Apr 13, 2015)
- Recent and Future developments of the DICOM standard (Mar 06, 2014)
- Documenting the history of HL7 (Sep 03, 2013)
- Interoperability Standards - the no-sales pitch (Jul 09, 2013)
- CDA Implementation Guides - (not) invented here (Apr 17, 2013)
- Usage of IHE Profiles (Feb 25, 2013)
- 10 year anniversary - Dutch Ringholm HL7 v2 training courses. (Feb 19, 2013)
- HL7 Connectathons (Sep 09, 2012)
- Frequency of use of HL7 message types (Jul 24, 2012)
- Reflections on the HL7 membership model - the affiliate life cycle (Dec 28, 2011)
- RFH (Resources for Health): HL7 version 3 taken to the next step (Aug 18, 2011)
- Timezone Hotel (Mar 29, 2011)
- The changing role of HL7 country organizations (Jul 16, 2010)
- How to lower the hurdle for HL7 v3 implementers (Jan 21, 2010)
- The HL7 roadmap for CDA R3 and the CCD (Jan 17, 2009)
- HL7 based Tree inventory system (Jan 30, 2007)
- Workflow Bribery (Sep 15, 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.
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