The number of standard setting organizations (SSOs) from which specifications have been drawn to create Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are legion, due to the complex nature of these goal. Some of the standards utilized are generic, and common to any sophisticated Internet-enabled commercial system. Others are specific to science, but usable generally in paper as well as information technology (IT) based health care systems. Only a few SSOs, however, have taken up the challenge of developing the major components essential and unique to EHRs. One of the oldest and most important is Health Level 7, more commonly referred to as HL7.
HL7 has been at the center of global EHR development since 1987, as well as a key player in the more recent U.S. efforts to design and implement a national EHR system by 2014, a commitment made by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address in January of 2004.
With the Obama Administration's pledge to meet that commitment, and to direct massive amounts of funding towards ensuring its success, it is critical that the standards needed to support this ambitious goal are not only available, but the right tools for the job as well.
In this interview, HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe, M.D. shares his perspective on what's been accomplished, what remains to be done, and where the critical decisions that will lead to success or failure in creating a national EHR system must be made.