HL7 delivers healthcare interoperability standards

 HL7 International Working Group Meeting May 2013


02 June 2013


The May 2013 WGM was held in Atlanta, Georgia. Several HL7 UK members attended the WGM.

TC Chair WGM report, May 2013

This was a generally positive WGM, with lots of activity in various areas rather than a predominant theme. The organisation is busy settling down to business again after the shake-up of the IP changes (see Philip’s report), FHIR is gradually becoming part of the business-as-usual, & a number of areas are working to become more mature in process & less dependent on key individuals.  

Highlights for me were:

Working with other SDOs

SKMT: The “Standards Knowledge Management Tool” provides a glossary of health informatics terms used in standards.  So far HL7 has contributed into this effort but is not so good at harmonising its own usage with the glossary. John Quinn (HL7 Int. CTO) highlighted this and challenged HL7 to take more account of SKMT in its own work. 

See www.skmtglossary.org  - registration is free.  Use and feedback is welcome from anyone; edit access is also (at present) granted to all who register, however there’s a request from the main developers to only add/edit where new material or changes have some level of authority from an SDO or similar organisation.  Contact: Heather Grain heather@lginformatics.com

DICOM & FHIR: the DICOM Web services group is working closely with the FHIR project, aiming at close harmonisation within the FHIR 80/20 philosophy...

Knowledge capture of HL7 semantics and conformance using OWL

Lloyd McKenzie reported on the project to develop a complete OWL representation of RIM, HL7 data types, and value set bindings & management. He has also made a fair bit of progress extending it to include v3, CDA & aspects of v2. This work is ongoing.

The model artefact as reported at the WGM comprises a large amount of undocumented OWL-XML, automatically generated from HL7 artefacts via MIF. Lloyd is testing the model using inferences based on conformance assertions, & hopes to go a bit further than the original brief & end up with as complete a model of HL7 standards conformance as possible.  The intent is to publish on HL7.org, with documentation, in due course.  The size of the model   (tens of gigabytes when compiled for inferencing) is an interesting simple metric of the overall quantity and complexity of HL7 standards.


There was a solid and forthright discussion in the EHR WG around the nature and purpose of the next release (R3) of the EHR-S FM. There was a proposal from Steve Hufnagel (who has worked for some time in the US Military Health and Veterans Administration area, probably the largest most fully integrated health programme around at this time) to include information model references in this next edition, however most of the EHR WG felt that was going a step too far (strong agreement on outcome, but based on quite a variety of reasons).

There was broad consensus behind bringing the EHR-S FM and its profiles under better management as an artefact set, so as to improve consistency and make profile development both easier and less challenging for maintenance in the longer term. There was also a concern that whatever approach was taken should retain all the knowledge “baked into” the current artefacts, some of which is implicit. There is a practical united will to move the EHR-S FM artefact family towards being a manageable product line with configuration management and change control, though this will take some time. The foundation level will be worked on first, that is, a library of model components plus technical ways to combine them, initially to replicate the current functional models and profiles, then support ongoing developments.

SOA WG and the HSSP

HSSP denotes the growing repertoire of services specifications that are jointly developed by HL7 and the OMG HDTF (Object Management Group Health Domain Task Force).  A handful of new services specification activities are starting up, and some existing areas including security & access, and a common service model for registries, are becoming active again. 

SOA WG also hosts one of the most interesting cross-cutting exercises within HL7 at this time, the “Cross-paradigm” project that uses the example of communications to and from (US) Immunisation registries by various players to demonstrate how different kinds of HL7 standards can be used together and/or interchangeably within a single business area. This project has gained in breadth and participation & promises to develop into a valuable practical guide to the different “paradigms” in HL7.

See http://hssp.wikispaces.com/  for further information - & look out for the new guide to HSSP specifications across HL7 & OMG that will appear here sometime in this next WGM cycle; it will take advantage of a welcome indirect effect of the no-cost licensing of HL7 standards:  the ability to link directly to specific published standards on the HL7.org website.

The OMG Health Domain Task Force is hosting an information day in Berlin on 17 June 2013, co-sponsored by HL7 International and HL7 Germany (see http://www.omg.org/news/meetings/tc/berlin-13/special-events/Health_Community_Summit.htm )

Security WG

The HL7 Security WG regularly allocate half a day in the WGM schedule to providing informal tutorials on aspects of security and privacy (which are considered a single area of work). I was free to attend this time, and found the session interesting and illuminating, covering in particular aspects of audit logging, and risk factors concerning mobile platforms.

Thanks to John Moehrke who led the session and has made the slides available:

Ann Wrightson

31 May 2013


Ann Wrightson

TC Chair, HL7 UK

1 February 2013



Last modified 02/06/13