US Health IT Standards Go Global

Health IT data standards developed by HL7, a US health IT standards accreditation organization, are being exported for international adoption.

A set of data standards developed by HL7, a health IT standards accreditation organization in the United States, is being jointly published with an international data standards group.

Seven additional standards have also been submitted for consideration.

So far, health IT data standards in the United States have been entirely the purview of industry groups, corporations and individual government agencies.

But while these data standards may not mesh amongst themselves, some are starting to be exported for international adoption.

HL7 (Health Level Seven), a non-profit data standards development organization accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), recently announced that it will be jointly publishing a set of data standards for the RIM (Reference Information Model) with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

"It is particularly important because it sets a direction for further HL7 standards to be shared internationally and defines the role of ISO in coordinating a single standard for a single purpose." said W. Ed Hammond, member of the HL7 board of directors and vice chair of the HL7 technical committee.

HL7 became a standards partner of the ISO through ANSI in 1998. This arrangement allows HL7 to submit its ANSI-approved standards directly to ISO to become joint ISO/HL7 standards.

The standards are accepted and approved through a technical committee devoted to health informatics.

Many countries require the use of ISO standards, so a major regulatory and legal barrier may be removed if HL7 standards are approved as ISO standards. The members of HL7 include an estimated 90 percent of the largest health care information systems vendors, their ranks number more than 500.

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The first set of standards approved is for RIM which is an object model that graphically represents clinical data. It is a shared model between all the domains and the model from which all domains create their messages.

HL7 is hoping that it "can now become the common basis for international health care standards."

In addition, HL7 has submitted seven other standards to the ISO for review. They include the following:

  • HL7 V2.5 Messaging Standard
  • Clinical Data Architecture—Release 2
  • Common Terminology Server—Release 1
  • Structured Product Labeling—Release 2
  • Annotated Electrocardiogram—Release 1
  • Individual Case Safety Report—Release 1
  • Stability Study—Release 1

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