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HL7 in Norway: a situation report

Publication date: Sep 02, 2008

The interest in HL7 version 3 is increasing markedly within all four healthcare regions in Norway.

The adoption of HL7 standards in Norway has historically been limited to some implementations of HL7 version 2 - when providers bought a software package from an international vendor.

During the summer of 2008 HL7 version 3 was embraced as the strategic semantic modelling standard by Helse Vest, one of the four Norwegian healthcare regions. Within Helse Vest all communications will be based on services with a v3 R-MIM payload.

The Helse Vest project consists of multiple phases, which have been planned up to 2010. Phase 1 of the project is limited to patient and person demographics (a regional Master Patient Index, as well as a Master Person Index in the form of the national Folkeregister) and encounters. Phase 2, which starts during the fall of 2008 will, amongst other things, add clinical data in the form of professional care summaries (using v3 CDA).

The other 3 healthcare regions (Helse S°r-Ost, Helse Midt, and Helse Nord), and the Rikshopsitalet in Oslo, are in the process of starting similar projects. The Rikshospitalet is considering the use of the version 3 Reference Information Model (RIM) as the base for their clinical data repository, which is used for clinical studies and receives/collects data generated by all applications (however small, even if they only consist of a spreadsheet).

Last year a healthcare architects forum was created by the four healthcare regions. The forum consists of the ICT architects of the healthcare regions. In Norway each healthcare region has the ability to act quite independently of each other - so the creation of this forum is likely to be a big step forward in achieving interoperability at a national level. The forum, pending wider implementation of HL7 version 3 and the creation of HL7 Norway, will coordinate the use of HL7 and other standards for use accross, as well as within, the healthcare regions.

The video below contains an interview with Torgny Neuman, ICT architect of Helse Vest, and member of the Norwegian architect forum for the healthcare sector.

When asked about special Norwegian use-cases not present in the HL7 version 3 standard yet, Torgny mentions a "query to get hold of the patients currently sitting in the waiting room", and the "mellom navn", a middle family name of sorts. See the video below for an explanation of these use cases.

Norway is a relatively small country in terms of population, but it's large in terms of size. Telemedicine is an important aspect of healthcare delivery. The creation of a unified set of (HL7 v3-based) services accross the healthcare regions will probably be an important step towards the exchange of patient at the national level.

-Rene

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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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