Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) and HL7 have worked together (and apart) trying to make interoperability a reality. At the best of times, we’re partners, working to solve the same equation. To some observers, we go about it very differently. But, partners we are and we have proven it time and again. The collaboration on Consolidated-CDA® was a tribute to the willingness of idealists to put aside process difference and achieve a critical goal.
Last year, the Board of IHE agreed, in principle, to venture well beyond the road less traveled. This spring, after a year of negotiation, HL7 and IHE began a pilot to ballot IHE artifacts with the HL7 consensus process. Purists on both sides of the table shouted foul. Fortunately, the potential benefits to each organization were too great to ignore.
To date, the results are mixed. After all, it’s difficult. The participants from IHE know the outcome they want, but learning the process is not easy. Some of the more patient souls from the HL7 are doing a lot of hand-holding. The most important part is that it’s being accomplished…warts and all.
After the initial pilot, there will be a careful post-mortem about the best and the worst of this partnership. It was a challenge to IHE loyalists to take the first step toward reconciling processes. There have been moments of rancor and disbelief and times of great sensitivity and caring, characteristics of an honest and productive relationship. Almost certainly, we will move forward with another ballot on a far more challenging problem. It’s critical that we succeed. The healthcare IT world is depending on us to develop standards by a process that compresses our typical timeline and enhances their quality.
Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD
CEO, Health Level Seven® International