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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Tomorrow morning HL7 recognizes various member organizations for their sponsorship of HL7 activities, and at every September Plenary meeting, they also recognize individual contributions to HL7 via the Ed Hammond Awards.  I decided that I am going to institute the Ad Hoc Motorcycle Guy Harley Award this evening based on a random comment someone made to me this evening.  Unlike the Ed Hammond awards which come with a pretty vase in Duke Blue, the Ad Hoc Motorcycle Guy Harley award appears in black and chrome, comes with no physical object of any monetary value.  However, the bragging rights you do get may be more valuable, we'll see as time goes on.

Tonight I was reminded of the contributions of one person to the use of CDA in multiple standards venues, and I'd like to honor that person with the First ever Ad Hoc Motorcycle Guy Harley Award. The rules of who gets the Ad Hoc Motorcycle Guy Harley award are completely arbitrary.  There is no nominating committee, although nominees are always welcome.  The bar to recognition is fairly high if the first recipient is any evidence, and I hope to maintain the quality of recipients in subsequent awards.  I wont' award more than one a year for the same type of industry service, and I expect to award no more than five a year.

This first award recipient is a software engineer working in a relatively obscure office.  The person receiving this award has contributed a great deal to one of the most frequently referenced tools that I point software engineers to who are implementing CDA documents.  He diligently reviews specifications from HL7, IHE, and ANSI/HITSP, comments on them using all the appropriate processes, follows up to ensure each issue he has raised is addressed by the relevant standards body, and then updates the work of his organization to see that implementors of CDA benefit from his work.  He spends tireless hours looking at what would be to most people a meaningless combination of XML, XPath Expressions and CDA constructions, reviews and patiently explains to others how the software his organization develops got the results it did, and what they must do to correct their problems; has his e-mail address posted online, answers innumerable e-mails on a weekly basis, especially in the months of October through January, and yet maintains a very even and fair keel through all of this.

This certifies that 
Andrew McCaffrey of NIST 

Has hereby been recognized for outstanding contributions to the forwarding of Healthcare Standardization

Andrew, congratulations and thank you for all your many years of service developing the NIST CDA Validator, review of countless HL7, IHE and ANSI/HITSP technical specifications.  Your collegues may have put me up to this, but I got to chose how you were mentioned, and I truly believe that you deserve significant recognition for all the work you have done on behalf of CDA interoperability, not just here in the USA but worldwide.  In honor of this recognition, the NIST CDA Validator also gets a link on this blog.


  1. Congratulations Andrew, and thank you. I Have used the NIST CDA validator; read your contributions and heard your input on technical committees. You have been most helpful to my understanding and consequent improvement of my work in the field of HIT.
    Best regards,
    David Roberts

  2. From "The Patient is Waiting" (The HL7 Song):
    "I know the temptation of being a hero /
    You pull out the paddles in just the nick of time /
    But how much more so the heroes you don't know /
    All quietly changing millions of lives /
    We can do it if we break these walls down..."

    I wrote this song with people like Andrew in mind, who do work that is seldom recognized or lauded, but whose tireless efforts make real transformation possible. Thank you, Andrew, for yeoman's work. And thank you, Keith, for recognizing him and for creating this e-badge of honor to honor those who work in the trenches.


    PS, the HL7 Song is available for download at by clicking the MP3 link at the top of the page.

  3. Wow, thanks! Very kind words and very much appreciated!

    I need, however, to point out that the CDA Validator isn't just my work; others have made major contributions over the years. My colleague Mary Laamanen of NIST created the schematron for several specifications (versions of IHE Laboratory, IHE BPPC, etc) and continues maintaining those rules. The HITSP/C32 rules were initially created by Dr. Len Gallagher of NIST and even in retirement he helps Mary and myself by proof-reading, correcting our bugs and creating various sample documents. Gavin O'Brien of NIST contributed schematron during our initial start-up phase. And, of course, the whole thing was Lisa Carnahan's idea. Credit is also due to more of my NIST colleagues who have made large and small contributions over the time we're been engaged in this work.

    Credit should also go to the family of invisible elves that I keep stashed in a desk drawer in my office and who really do all of the work (and manage to sustain themselves entirely on a diet of rice and old shoes). They make the magic happen. I'd also like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press.

    In all seriously though, again, thanks very much. The words are very much appreciated.


  4. Congrats Andrew. How come he didn't get a Ultra Classic???

  5. Congratulations Andrew. I don't believe we've met personally but knowing that you're behind getting out the NIST CDA validation tool for the industry and getting an endorsement from Keith, who I consider a CDA and HIT specification guru in his own right, is enough for me. Thanks for all your time, effort and commitment to moving true interoperability closer to a reality.

  6. Keith has set the bar very high, indeed. As the HITSP Testing Liaison to NIST, I offer my sincere congratulations to Andrew and all the elves and many thanks for the diligence and tireless efforts of the NIST team in supporting HITSP and the industry at large. A very fitting recipient for this first award.

  7. Congradulation Andrew,

    Even thought we have not met, I know your work is wonderful and I can benefit from your expertise in HITSP/C32 rule and CDA valiator.

    I would like to pay you a visit if possible.
    I will find your email address and send you information or give you a call.

    I am not far from your office.

  8. Congrats Andrew - and well deserved. On behalf of CCHIT and the LAIKA team- your support has been invaluable and much appreciated.

  9. Andrew, if it had just been the CDA Validator, I would have to agree with you (and believe me, I am very fond of, and appreciate all of the work of the elves that you mentioned, and others). What really made your work shine were the extensive comments you made on HL7, IHE and HITSP specifications, the fact that you followed up those comments through several different organizational processes, and made sure that those organizations closed out your comments. It's that kind of dilligence that has kept those specifications consistent across three organizations. It's also all the care that went into handling all the comments that you recieve on this tool. I know I sic'ed at least three engineering teams on you personally, and yet you dealt with them and all of their questions very patiently and professionally, and they and I learned a great deal from you. Well Done

  10. Congratulation Andrew, as others have already mentioned, your collaborative work along with all others has been invaluble to advancing the efforts. Having used the Validator as a monitor last week, I must say, it made our work easy and allowed us to grade the 1000s of tests quickly and efficiently. I hope you and all those that support the standards-based interoperability progress continue to know our gratitude.