HL7 Standards Update. HL7 2.X continues to march forward with new releases. HL7 2.6 is done (just published this week) and proposals for 2.7 have closed — the first ballot for HL7 2.7 will be in May 2008. From a practical perspective, this means that 2.7 will hit the streets sometime in late 2009.
Most users of HL7 2.X don’t pay attention to the newer releases of HL7 (both HL7 2.X and 3.X) because these current users are building interfaces between existing applications. These applications typically have “more-or-less 2.3” interfaces and, broadly, those interfaces are “good enough” for most users. There is a comparatively small group that helps create new releases of HL7 or that has an opportunity to improve a vendor’s interface by upgrading to a new release of the HL7 Standard.
It is always interesting to see how the HL7 community continues to push HL7 2.X forward. It is fair to say that HL7 2.6 and, soon, HL7 2.7 are better standards than prior releases. They both have more functionality, better descriptions, and fewer errors.
In a free market, buyers choose (directly or indirectly) the version of HL7 they ask their vendor to create. With time, I hope that many vendors will move to the more-complete standards. In the United States, we must rely on market (buyer’s) pressure to ask purveyors of software to improve the functionality of their interfaces.
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