The objectives in creating the new HL7 standard – HL7 V3 – were:
- Internationalization – HL7 V3 needs to be able to be used by the worldwide HL7 organization while supporting the need for local variants.
- Consistent Data Model – HL7 V3 needs to define the data model used by HL7 applications in order to have consistent data availalbe for implementation.
- Precise Standard – HL7 V3 needs to take the information learned from all the HL7 V2 versions and create a standard that contains all the necessary data and is less vague and, therefore, less flexible.
- New Standard – As the community began to define HL7 V3, it decided that V3 would not be compatible with V2 for a number of reasons. Primarily, if V3 was backwards compatible with V2, the newer standard would be hamstrung with many legacy issues. Any attempt to retrofit an explicit data or application role model into V2 would be difficult and the antithesis of the vague V2 world. Finally, the standard need breathing room so it could radically change in order to improve the quality of interfaces.
In late 2005, the HL7 standards community released the first version of HL7 V3 ? the Normative Edition 2005. In mid-2006, the Normative Edition 2006 was published. With these two initial releases, many sections of the standard are complete, yet there are still several significant areas left to define or create in later releases. The planned V3 release cycle is four times a year, including three Implementation Editions for balloting and testing within the volunteer community and one Normative Edition for general use (released at the end of each year).
From the outset, V3 promises to be a brave new world with “90 percent or more” of the interface predefined. The primary value in the new standard will be an explicit data model, clear definitions, and more use cases that enable much less flexibility in individual message elements. The tighter standard promises “easier” interfaces for users.
Learn more details about the HL7 standards, including version 3, with the white paper entitled The Evolution of HL7 (PDF).
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