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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Complicated

The other day my daughter updated her relationship status from "Single" to "It's complicated".  I've had numerous conversations over the past several days which to some, would seem to be very simple.  But once you scratch the surface, what appears is a lot more complex that the uninformed would expect.

What value sets should we allow for gender and/or sex?  Once you get into what the querant is trying to accomplish, it gets complicated.  And it turns out that for these terms, when you change the question of what you are trying to do, you also change the value set.  It's complicated.

I've seen several complaints about HL7's current business model over the past several days.  The answer is simple according to many, give away the standards.  But inevitably, when I ask about how HL7 remains a viable organization, few have considered the answers.  And yet, these are the complicated questions that HL7 would have to answer if the desired outcome (free standards) were to be produced.  It's complicated.

Developing a profile?  The answer is hardly ever simple.  We reduce scope in IHE to avoid complexity, but it hardly ever goes away.  There's never just one standard to use for a use case, there are multiple that need to work together.  Why?  It's complicated.

The only simple answer in life is 42, and that was because nobody knew what the question was.

So, before you tell me "It's simple, all you need to do is ...", follow up on the consequences of your idea.  Inevitably,  I think you'll find that it's complicated.

There are few real-world questions that have simple answers.  If it really is so simple, why do YOU need to answer the question?