Health Level Seven (HL7) is an international Standards Development Organization (SDO) operating in the healthcare arena. Health Level Seven is one of several American National Standards Institute (ANSI) -accredited SDOs operating in the healthcare arena. Most SDOs produce standards (sometimes called specifications or protocols) for a particular healthcare domain such as pharmacy, medical devices, imaging or insurance (claims processing) transactions. Health Level Seven’s domain is clinical and administrative data. Health Level Seven has agreements with other SDOs in an effort to gather broad input and harmonize standards development.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI, Health Level Seven is like most of the other SDOs in that it is a not-for-profit volunteer organization. Its members– providers, vendors, payers, consultants, government groups and others who have an interest in the development and advancement of clinical and administrative standards for healthcare—develop the standards. Like all ANSI-accredited SDOs, Health Level Seven adheres to a strict and well-defined set of operating procedures that ensures consensus, openness and balance of interest. A frequent misconception about Health Level Seven (and presumably about the other SDOs) is that it develops software. In reality, Health Level Seven develops specifications, the most widely used being a messaging standard that enables disparate healthcare applications to exchange keys sets of clinical and administrative data. Health Level Seven also publishes non-messaging standards covering system functions, clinical documents utilizing the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) models.
Members of Health Level Seven are known collectively as the Working Group, which is organized into technical committees and special interest groups. The technical committees are directly responsible for the content of the Standards. Special interest groups serve as a test bed for exploring new areas that may need coverage in HL7’s published standards. A list of the technical committees and special interest groups as well as their missions, scopes and current leadership is available on this web site.
Develop consistent, extensible standards that allow standardised, encoded health care data, such as that needed to support patient care, to be shared between computer applications while maintaining context.
Create a systematic methodology to assist in the development of HL7 standards based on the HL7 Reference Information Model (RIM).
Educate the healthcare sector, policymakers, and the general public about the advantages of healthcare knowledge standardisation in general and the HL7 standards in particular.
Promote the use of HL7 standards around the world by forming HL7 International Affiliate organisations that participate in the creation of HL7 standards and localise them as required.
Encourage, promote, and support domain experts from healthcare industry stakeholder groups to engage in HL7 to improve healthcare knowledge standards in their areas of expertise.
In both the healthcare and information technology realms, collaborate with other standards production agencies and national and international sanctioning bodies (e.g., ANSI and ISO) to encourage the use of supportive and compliant standards.
Collaborate with users of healthcare information technology to ensure that HL7 standards meet real-world needs and that HL7 initiates appropriate standards improvement activities to meet emerging needs.
Develop device functional models to assist the industry in determining the most important standards for electronic health record and personal health record systems.
Healthcare Organizations and OHT
Healthcare is a very difficult industry to understand. Many, if not all, of the stakeholders listed above are likely to be present within healthcare organisations, so these dynamics are self-evident. In order for OHT to add value to healthcare organisations, we must look beyond organisational labels.
We investigate the points of communication for different organisational roles with the OHT community in order to better understand the significance of their interactions with OHT and the business benefits that can be realised through participation. It’s worth remembering that these roles are categorised by intent rather than by the organisations themselves, such as providing care or paying for services. Simply put, multiple organisations play multiple roles, particularly when national differences are taken into account. Rather than addressing a government activity, we decided to list the different types of activities that government agencies might participate in.
OHT participation benefits this role in the following ways: Improved de-facto interoperability among commercial applications; iii) improved ability to influence and impact commercial vendors; and iv) influence on OHT priorities Contributions to the OHT community include use cases, subject matter experts, organisational requirements, software tools, HL7 developer support, and code contributions. OHT will have the following technological outputs: I applications as proof-of-concept or architectural prototypes; ii) tooling to facilitate custom hl7 integration software or development; and iii) marketplace vendor product offerings that are compatible with requirements needs
Lower costs of non-differentiating software product infrastructure investments; ii) increased market share as a result of overall group growth fostered by OSS; iii) improved quality as a result of a vetted OSS codebase; v) improved sight lines to the needs of a potential consumer base; and v) improved market branding and product positioning Acceptable contributions include code and development tools.
Improved distributor product interoperability reduces integration risk; ii) improved sight lines to the needs of a potential customer base; iii) the ability to monitor OHT priorities; and iv) market branding and positioning. Human or financial capital, subject matter experts, code, integration and implementation experience, monitoring, and quality assurance are all examples of contributions. One of the technology outputs is a reusable codebase in the form of tools and applications.
I reduced or eliminated custom tooling; ii) improved marketplace product support; iii) improved standard-creation capacity; iv) increased the value of healthcare standards produced; and v) power over OHT priorities. Contributions may include use cases, subject matter experts, organisational requirements, and funding. The technologies acquired in exchange include tooling to support the standards development process, healthcare standards-compliant market offerings, and an OSS codebase.
The Foundation will benefit from observable health community impact as well as the ability to incent traditional business change that is in line with the Foundation’s objectives. Contributions include influencing OHT goals and providing funding to the OHT group. The ability to use technology is one of its many benefits.