Open Healthcare Framework

Sunday, June 04, 2006

HL7 v2 & Conformance Profiles

Given the rather open nature of HL7 V2, it's strange that conformance profiles are not more widely supported and adopted. I think that there's several reasons for this:
  • HL7 V2 is so loose that conformance profiles don't have the same meaning as for other standards
  • Conformance Profile specifications have lagged behind the standard itself
  • There has only been a few tools available to create or use conformance profiles, and they don't seem to have met industry needs
We will be implementing several tools related to conformance profiles in the Eclipse HL7 V2 OHF component, including an editor, validator, and some code generation tools. Why compete with MWB? While it's fairly widely adopted through HL7, it's not the easiest tool to use, and no community has been created around the development. Peter (the developer) would welcome this - and I've donated some small amount of code to him before - but it's just the wrong platform to go forward with (It's written in delphi - a great language, I still use it - but no longer a platform for going forwards).

Anyhow, trying to implement conformance profiles has underlined for me how far short the specification falls from real world usage. There's lot's of things in the standard that are open and empty, and I don't know how you could write a complete useful real world conformance profile at this time. You can say some things, but not other things. Important things, like how you use multiple patient identifiers.

Hopefully we can create enough inertia and desire that these things can be fixed - though we may have to rely on lore, as I wonder whether HL7 can summon enough energy to do another v2 version (speaking as one of the editors!)