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How to plan for an HL7 Standards Update

Written by Rich Murphy, Director, Interoperability Solutions, Iatric Systems

HL7 standards update image

When your organization is planning for an HL7 standards update, as with every new version of software or new standard, you'll face a learning curve. You have to understand what has changed, what new functions (e.g., benefits) you are going to get from it, but more importantly, you have to understand exactly what you have to do to implement the new version. Sometimes it's a simple upgrade, but other times, especially with standards, in order to move the technology forward, sometimes it's completely different and requires a lot more planning and implementation time.

Enter, HL7 v2.5.1. This HL7 version contains stricter codification standards than those in v2.3, and a fair amount of preparation and planning is required to implement this version.

I've seen a lot of changes in the world of healthcare IT, and it seems things are changing faster than ever. At every turn, new standards or government regulations are turning the healthcare IT world upside down. One of the things that I see hospitals struggle with the most is preparing for these changes, all while making sure the hospital runs smoothly day-to-day.

A lot of our customers ask me about the best way to approach an upgrade of HL7 standards. I tell people, the simple answer is…good planning. Although, as we all know, planning isn’t always simple!

Here is some information that you may find helpful as you embark on preparing for implementation of HL7 v2.5.1 and Meaningful Use Stage 3.

How to plan for converting to HL7 v2.5.1

Depending on which EHR you have, your conversion to HL7 v2.5.1  could require only minor changes, or it could require a significant amount of resources to make it work. Here are a few areas where planning ahead can have a big impact:

  • Mapping:
    • Can involve thousands of entries and can take quite a bit of time to complete
    • Needs to be completed before proper testing can begin (timeline impact and consideration)
    • Requires clinical knowledge and expertise to properly complete
  • Preparing hospital staff:
    • Make sure some of your seasoned staff members set aside time to complete the codified data mapping and data entry
    • Coordinate activities months in advance of testing/attestation dates
    • Timeline coordination – Software vendors may need to provide software updates to be Meaningful Use compliant — this needs to be factored into the larger project timeline
    • Vendor delays can have large timeline consequences to go LIVE dates
  • Handling of Clinical Documents:
    • Many different types of Clinical Documents may also take advantage of codified data values
    • These are typically created in XML (Extensible Markup Language) with style sheets applied to make each document more human readable

These are just a few of the main areas to consider when transitioning to HL7 v2.5.1 and Meaningful Use.

I gave a detailed presentation on this topic at International MUSE in May and have a recorded version available for you. Listen to the on-demand webcast and get your HL7 questions answered.

Listen to the On-Demand Webcast

Topics: Interoperability, integration, HL7

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