A new study has been released on behalf of the Enterprise & Industry Directorate General of the European Commission on the topic of ICT standards in the health sector: current situation and prospects.
The study contains a number of interesting remarks on HL7, for example welcoming the current initiative towards greater collaboration between HL7, ISO and CEN.
But there are also critical remarks, for example to the effect that:
And also this:
Small or medium-sized ICT manufacturers may not be willing to adopt commonly used standards because these are very complex and thus difficult and expensive to implement. This applies for example to HL7 version 3. It may be less costly to develop proprietary standards on their own. (p. 21)
HL7’s v2.x standards were important steps towards standardising clinical messaging. However, several issues caused difficulties, above all different options to implement the standard. To correct this issue, the RIM was developed for v3.0, eliminating most of the implementation options. The concept behind HL7 v3.0 has been generally well received. However, the RIM caused new problems. Firstly, it is unlikely that the defined RIM classes and attributes could be applied to every domain in healthcare – which is what they are intended to do. Secondly, the RIM documentation is described as being “disastrously unclear”, poorly integrated with HL7 v3.0 documentation, and inconsistent.
Under these circumstances, it may be difficult for HL7 v3.0 to establish a large user base. ... HL7’s involvement in the joint initiative with ISO and CEN may have the objective to move faster to international adoption of HL7 standards. The outcome of this convergence work as well as the organisation’s ability to create a satisfactory RIM may determine the future importance of HL7. (p. 37f.; emphasis added)