Wednesday, November 30, 2005

HL7 V3 dubbed "The Foundation of Healthcare Interoperability"

Health Level Seven’s Version 3 Normative Edition 2005 standards have been made available in the Members' Area of They are dubbed "The Foundation of Healthcare Interoperability". The HL7 RIM, in particular, is asserted to be a critical component of the V3 development process.

"The rules require that all information structures in derived models be traceable back to the RIM and that their semantic and related business rules not conflict with those specified in the RIM. The RIM therefore is the ultimate source for all information content in HL7 V3 standards." It is the "root of all information models and structures developed as part of the V3 development process", including those information models and structures in areas such as Clinical Genomics.

On the other hand the RIM contains definitions such as the following:

Living Subject: A subtype of Entity representing an organism or complex animal, alive or not.

Animal: A subtype of Living Subject representing any animal-of-interest to the Personnel Management domain.

Person: A subtype of Living Subject representing single human being [sic] who, in the context of the Personnel Management domain, must also be uniquely identifiable through one or more legal documents (e.g. Driver’s License, Birth Certificate, etc.).

[It seems that in the latest version of the RIM documentation the last two definitions have been removed; however they survive in the HL7 Glossary.]

This leads immediately to the question whether the biology which is incorporated in the RIM is able to bear the load which has been placed upon it. It may also lead to some scepticism concerning the process of design-by-ballot which led to these and similarly questionable outcomes.

The following piece of nonsense suggests also that the authors of the RIM have problems with understanding what is meant by 'definition':
QueryBySelection: This class contains the definition of a Query by Selection. This is an HL7 query in which a request can specify any or all of the variables offered by a data server and may additionally specify any permissible operators and values for each variable as published in a query conformance statement. This query format is considered an open query because it allows a selection specification against a published data base schema.
Here the definiens is asserted to be 'contained in' the definiendum. (As if one were to formulate a definition of number by writing: 'a number contains the definition of a number'.)

The second sentence contains a dangling anaphora (what does 'this' refer to?) In addition, it identifies the entire class which is to be defined with one of its instances.

The third sentence confuses 'query format' with 'query', and contains the vague expression 'is considered is'. (Compare 'an even number is considered as a number that is divisible by 2'.)

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