Surrender to HL7

Medical SystemSince last December, I've been working on a project that implies the standard HL7 v3. HL7 means Health Level 7. It`s the maximum level of interoperability between systems. In this case the interoperability between applications.

Searching for information about HL7 is a nightmare. In my job there was someone trained in this standard, but to obtain information from this person was impossible. Her excuse is that she was not good at teaching. In any case, I was able to take a course about HL7 International standard. It seems nobody else in the whole world has that information. But, that's not totally true. The information is freely available from the site, and other sites, the only problem is to know where to look for.

I was surprised when I saw the format of the course (HL7 Fundamentals Course). The information is good, but the format is like travelling in the past. Only text, published in PDF and epub formats (the epub format is terrible, by the way). I was expecting a video course, like what we are used to nowadays. But nope. You have to read some documents in PDF format and, if you have any question post it to the forum. There they have quizzes and activities for every week.

The course has many interesting links to find more information about the different versions of HL7. The first 4 units are about interoperability, HL7 history, UML and XML. The second part, is about HL7 V2x. The third part is about HL7 v3, my personal nightmare. The fourth part is about HL7 CDA, a way to interchange clinical documents. Finally, HL7 FHIR, the new kid on the block as they called it, the last version of the norm that is supposed to improve all the versions of HL7 that existed before.

I've finished the course three weeks ago, and I'm happy with the information of the course. The trainers are very helpful and friendly and in general the information is very complete, sometimes even funny. However, it's not an easy course to follow, you have to read a lot and there are some activities that are not easy to complete. You have to post questions in the forum and wait for an answer (two or three days sometimes).

You have to obtain 60% in order to have a certificate and they can give you a partial certificate if you missed some part of the course. Most of the people completed the course, but I was surprised to see some attend for the partial certificate.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] at


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