Why Re-Envisioning HL7 International?

This year has shown us more clearly than any other time that interoperability on a global level is no longer desirable but essential.  At HL7 International, we aware of the complexities of our organization and how they can be a barrier to engaging the broader health IT community.  In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to re-envision what we do, why we do it and how we do it. Given this, the Board chartered earlier this year the Re-Envisioning HL7 International Initiative.  During our annual business meeting in September, 2020, the Re-envisioning HL7 effort was introduced to the Membership, including the Core Five Principles that serve as anchors to the strategy and next steps.

As an outcome of this process, we see a re-envisioned HL7 International organization that is more focused, agile, globally relevant, community-oriented and sustainable.  We also see an organization that is more approachable, simpler to understand and participate in, efficient in its processes, effective in the delivery of its products and services, and that provides value to all our stakeholders.

Core Five Principles

The Five Principles that serve as anchors to the strategy and next steps are listed below:

  • Principle 1: FOCUS - The future of HL7 is greatly dependent upon the development and adoption of HL7 FHIR; therefore, we must focus on its enhancement and advancement to meet the industry’s needs. HL7’s V2, CDA and V3 standards are mature, widely implemented and form the foundation of most healthcare systems, primarily in the US. They should require only minor maintenance to address errors and/or changes in regulation.
  • Principle 2: GLOBAL RELEVANCE2020 has demonstrated the imperative for global health data interoperability. HL7 FHIR adoption is critical to achieving that goal. Driving further adoption requires that we embrace our global community and move beyond our traditional stakeholders and approaches.
  • Principle 3: AGILITYMoving quickly and decisively is the hallmark of a modern standards organization. HL7 must keep pace with the needs of a rapidly evolving industry. The future HL7 must focus on outcomes and not process.
  • Principle 4: SUSTAINABILITYCurrent funding is insufficient to adequately address the current and future needs of the organization, such as advancing FHIR, achieving global relevance, and reaching a larger community. HL7 needs to maximize existing funding sources and identifying new sources to advance our vision and mission.
  • Principle 5: COMMUNITYWe must inspire our membership and expand our reach and engagement of broader communities to support the development and implementation of HL7 standards.

Prioritized Recommendations by Principle
For each of the Core Five Principles, the Board approved a series of prioritized recommendations.  View the full list of recommendations that align with each principle here

Oversight Structure & Opportunities for Participation
To begin strategy implementation, the Board created several task groups displayed here, along with their assigned recommendations.

Activities will be managed by an Oversight Committee comprised of members of the Executive Committee and other Board-appointed individuals. A Communications Strategy Task Group has been established to develop and implement a vital communications plan for both members and other stakeholders.

Each Task Group is charged with:

  • Defining and refining the recommendations
  • Identifying the core outcomes
  • Detailing specific actions and intermediate steps
  • Establishing a timeline with target milestones
  • Detailing cost/resources for each assigned recommendation

There will be active coordination between the task groups and the HL7 Board, work groups and committees including the Advisory Council, TSC, International Council, Policy Committee, co-chairs group and others.

If you would like to participate in one of these task groups please contact HL7 Associate Executive Director Karen Van Hentenryck.

Next Steps

  • Task groups will begin their work immediately
  • Periodic meetings to discuss the strategy will be held with the Board, committees, councils and work groups
  • HL7 will hold monthly membership listening sessions to review progress and solicit member feedback on the strategy
  • Periodic progress updates will continue to be sent to the HL7 membership

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  1. I believe that the focus EXCLUSIVELY on FHIR is not the best approach for the organization - support for the implemented standards, like V2 and CDA must be available to support existign data exchange for quite a while and improved functionality should be easily atainable (as wholesale change to a completely new paradigm that may nt cover all functionality available in the existing standards may not be possible as fast as said adjustments). WG that support the widely implemented standards should not abandon support or new development.

  2. Hi Riki.  Many thanks for your comment on the Re-Envisioning Strategy.  While we see the importance of our first Bold Principle - FOCUS – to be primarily around FHIR, it is not intended to be exclusive of the need to maintain support for key existing standard families, such as V2 and CDA, as they will continue to co-exist with FHIR.  What we are concerned about is continuing to invest resources in the development of new versions (such as V2.9, V2.10 and beyond) that are really not being widely (or even minimally) utilized around the world.  Hope this is helpful. Best,  Walter.

    1. While I agree that most folks will probalby NOT implement v2.9 wholesale, they will pre-adopt features into older versions used in implementation guides already in place that support an added business need to existing interfaces - I know that is what has been happening with the lab IGs - they are v2.5.1, but have pre-adopted concepts from 2.9 - similar things occur with IHE implementation guides. So to me that development needs to still be supported and the move to V2+ will help with folks being able navigate the base spec a bit easier.

  3. I think it’s interesting that we pitch HL7 as International even though it is US centric.  As the HL7 Chair during our transition (2005 – 2008) I suggested that to be truly International we should take the ultimate step of creating the US Affiliate under the umbrella of HL7 International.  As is evident, it did not get a lot of traction.  So, we ended up with HL7 International encompassing a number of Affiliates and created the US Realm.  Isn’t it time to consider letting our major base of members, supporters, and participants operate in their own environment – the US Affiliate?

  4. With regard to the latest Webinar...

    Three Re-envisioning task groups (TGs) working on Sustainability will be the focus of the upcoming Re-envisioning HL7 Member Forum (May 5, 11 am ET):

    • Advocacy & Development
    • ROI (mostly focused on Accelerators)
    • Education

    "We invite all HL7 members to participate in this Forum:"

    If that's the case, and this is not a US-centric meeting, then why not hold it at 4 pm US Eastern Time (20:00 UTC) which is commonly acknowledged as the time most suitable to the largest number of participants from around the world?

  5. HI Peter.  I offer my apologies to the Australia/New Zealand/Asia membership for choosing this time.  We will make sure to record the Forum, and will look into producing an Encore for a later day at 4:00 pm ET.