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Publication date: Apr 16, 2009

HL7 UK held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Technical Comittee Working Meeting on April 7th. The meeting was held in the Union Jack club in London. HL7 UK invited some non-UK speakers to talk about RIMBAA: the use of the HL7 RIM as an application internal data format.

The Union Jack club is quite close to Waterloo station. Waterloo station used to be the destination of the high speed trains from Paris - so there are lots of vegetables and sausages from France on offer on street corner markets. Easy of travel doesn't just help in the exchange of goods, it also facilitates the exchange of ideas. Virtualization isn't everything, face to face meetings still have some advantages.

32 members attended the meeting - out of a total of 90 personal and 101 organizational HL7 UK members. Those membership numbers have been stable over the past few years.

Structure and focus of HL7 UK

The uptake of HL7 version 3 amongst certain key players in the UK (those parties involved in the national infrastructure, NPfIT) has been sizable. HL7 UK has followed the English national program for the last couple of years.

Rik Smithies, past chair of HL7 UK, states that HL7 UK has recently changed its focus somewhat to cater to other potential users of HL7's standards, i.e. those that didn't directly benefit from the national program - notably the smaller software vendors. There's a new group of people that are just getting into the interoperability world, and HL7 is quite a daunting place. We would like HL7 UK to act as a bit of a springboard and provide them with access some of the speakers that might meet at international HL7 meetings, and to get them on their way to become experts in HL7 in the coming years.

Ann Wrightson (Informing Healthcare, the Welsh NHS) is the new TC chair of HL7 UK. She says that in the past HL7 UK (like many other HL7 affiliates) has worked with subject-based groups. The energy from those has faded over the last coouple of years. The way to move forward is to have a steering group for the TC, involving regional champions (for each of the home countries) as well as subject matter experts.

The full interview with Rik Smithies and Ann Wrightson can be seen here:


I was asked to present an overview of RIMBAA (see powerpoint, or background whitepaper).

Andy Harris of UK Biobank uses a RIMBAA application (Oracle's HTB). His presentation was related to the requirement to model and use complicated query structures.

Andrea Ceiner and Davide Magni, of PHI telemed (Italy), did a live presentation of PHI Technology, an HL7 (RIMBAA) based configurable hospital system. Rik Smithies especially found the process modelling of interest. This is traditionally outside of the scope of HL7, but it is certainly the way forward for designing usable applications.

Michael Van der Zel, of UMCG (the Groningen University Medical Center, the Netherlands) presented their RIMBAA approach, which is based on clinical statements and templates. Their implementation is based on CIMs (Constrained Information Models).

Rik suggests that the International HL7 RIMBAA WG should focus on the documentation of best practices. The issue of having to deal with generations of data, e.g. because of differences in templates that were used at the time of collection of the data will be a major issue. Ann suggests working on the Technology matrix as an organizing structure, to see how the architectural approaches of various application types cluster in the RIMBAA space.

Future activities

HL7 UK will invite international speakers to attend its UK meetings, to inform UK members about international activities.

During discussions the suggestion was made to announce the Dutch RIMBAA meetings to HL7 UK members; and to organize joint meetings. The next Dutch RIMBAA group meeting will be in Nijmegen on May 27th - there are plans to organize a joint RIMBAA meeting (joint with HL7 UK and other affiliates) in Amsterdam a couple of weeks after the WGM in Atlanta (September 2009).

It was nice to be in London - where neither the visit, the sunshine nor the beer were virtual in any way..


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