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HL7 Invites Clinicians To Help With Standards

Posted on June 8, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested in ways in which clinicians get a chance to make health data use more to their liking.  In that spirit, here’s an item from Information Week which just caught my eye — one I think you’ll find it interesting too.

Apparently, the HL7 organization has launched a new pilot membership program allowing clinicians to join and share their knowledge of clinical requirements.  The hope is that clinicians will help HL7 develop in a direction that better supports patient-centered care, IW reports.

Anyone who’s involved in direct patient care, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, can join HL7 for one year for $100.

Clinicians who join will be encouraged to plug in to the group and:

* Improve the usefulness and quality of HIT standards developed by the group, and by doing so, make EMRs more usable

* Help other members understand how data standards affect how they deliver care

* Make sure that HL7 standards can support useful exchange of data between EMRs and across HIEs

While one would hope HL7 takes clinician needs into account regardless  of whether they’re members, it’s good to see the organization making a real pitch for physician membership.

Hospitals, if you want to be at the cutting edge of interoperability I’d offer to pay even that trivial $100 and encourage clinicians to share what they learned within your organization.

By the way, I was particularly intrigued by a side issue mentioned in the article, which was that HL7 has created an infrastructure for connecting personal health data — notably genetic records, IW reports — to care delivery.

Tying in personalized medical data sounds like a very fruitful direction for future HL7 deployments, as it will encourage more such research and create the kind of virtuous cycle we all hope to see. (Research used, more research produced, more used, better care and so on…)

The Depressing State Of HIEs

Posted on May 3, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been following the progress of HIEs since the mid-2000s, and the story has always seemed to be the same.  HIE gets sparked by a grant or some entrepreneurial thinking, gets to rolling, looks promising, then dies because there’s not enough cash to keep things working.

Seven or eight years later, I’d love to be telling y’all that the HIE has magically matured, and that regional HIEs are taking off rapidly now that it’s clear everyone will need to be part of one at some point.  Well, I’m afraid that even that modest hope — let’s forget the National Health Information Network — doesn’t look like it’ll be fulfilled soon.

The latest downer came from the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC), a public-private partnership funded by ONCHIT.   While the report was apparently intended to help HIEs grow, it also did much to remind us of the obstacles facing most public HIEs.

As Chris Muir, state HIE project manager for ONC recently told a press conference, the $564 million in federal funds that have been laid out to date to jumpstart HIEs haven’t gotten the job done.  He noted that in many regions, infrastructure doesn’t exist to support HIEs, but even if it does, few providers sign up. Then, even if they sign up, most participants don’t take full advantage of the network.

And wouldn’t you know it, the growth of ACOs has ended up spiking some HIE projects. For example, a successful HIE noted in the NeHC report told the conference that ACO growth is hampering his organizations operations. Some ACO providers are now blocking access to their data so competitors can’t get to it, said CEO Tom Fritz.

There’s also some technical obstacles faced by the HIEs, but those, I must say, seem solvable in an era when people are already making determined strides to allow interoperability between HIEs and outpatient EMRs. One group of federally funded HIEs, the Beacon Communities, is developing a continuity of care document that can be automatically exported to an exchange via a pre-arranged trigger, said Jason Kunzman, Beacon Community senior project manager for ONC.

Well, this is all well and good. But I still think I’ll be keeping my basic medical info on a thumb drive for now.

HL7 Offers Some of Its Wares For Free

Posted on February 23, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Health Level Seven made an interesting announcement at HIMSS12 this week, announcing a pilot project in which it will give away some what it terms “key intellectual property” at no charge.  HL7  is offering no-charge licensing of its domain models (DAMs) and functional profiles.  This is the first time HL7 has offered such a deal. Given some of the ongoing issues in implementing HL7, which hasn’t always contributed to interoperability the way the industry has hoped, I think the jury’s out on how effective this will be.

For what it’s worth, HL7 is beginning by giving It makes sense that HL7 would start by giving away DAM licenses, as the DAM requirements allow providers to take the first step of analyzing the business of a specific clinical domain. This is the first step in creating HL7 standards for a specific clinical area. Once the DAM analysis is completed, organizations have a source they can use to design HL7 standards.

In addition to the DAM rules, HL7 is also licensing some stand-alone DAMs which address some important clinical processes, including cardiology, acute coronary syndrome, clinical trials registration and results and its analysis model for vital records.

The other prong of HL7’s offer is free licenses for the HL7 Electronic Health Record System Functional Model (EHR-S FM), whch specifies the key requirements for an EHR.  THe profiles offer details on key features and functions of EHRs, including criteria for supproting medication history, clnical decision support, privacy and security.

HL7 is offering several specialized profiles at no cost, including child health, behavioral health, long-term care, clinical research and records management and evidentiary support.

HL7 also announced a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute at the show, under which it the two will use the HL7 Clinical Document Architecture to connect clinical trial data to patient EHRs.  The two parties say the project should bring clinical trial data straight to practicing physicians as quickly as possible, helping to close the infamous “bench to bedside” gap.  This actually sounds more promising than the above; let’s hope we see some  quick action here.