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A week long learning experience on HL7 and "interoperability"

I have been attending tutorials and workgroup meetings in the HL7 conference in Phoenix, AZ since Monday. It was interesting to see so many people coming from all across the world with one objective – “interoperability”.

Though its just one word, but the significance and the cost of achieving and implementing it is very high. The cost is not just in terms of money, but also the overhead of managing and maintaining the system. The complexity of “interoperability” becomes much higher for a country like USA as there are so many states and each state having their own way of doing things. Whereas for other countries, it might be easier to undertake the challenge as the decision can be made by a centralized government.

In spite of the initial cost of implementation, the long term ROI is quite high – realization of the ROI can be the greatest motivation to implement HL7. Just think of the situation where a patient’s clinical/behavioral information for a specific episode or even life long information from different doctors/clinics will be just a click away.

This is where things are heading in HL7 standardization process and we are getting ready to get ourselves to the next level in terms of “interoperability”.

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