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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Future of HL7

... is looking pretty rosy right now, at least from a leadership perspective.  There are three excellent (in my opinion) candidates from which to choose the next HL7 Chair,
  • Calvin Beebe of Mayo, long time co-chair of Structured Documents, past board member and current treasurer.
  • Dough Fridsma of ONC, Chief Scientist at ONC and former Director of the Office of Standards and Interoperability.
  • Me
I'd be hard pressed to choose between Doug and Calvin if I weren't running myself, but I am, so my decision is easy.  Yours is perhaps a bit more challenging.

Elsewhere you can read my profile, and see my work experience.  Here, I'd like to talk a little bit more about my vision for HL7.

HL7 as an organization needs to change.  It needs to become more Internationally focused so as to streamline efforts globally, and at the same time, it needs to find a way to become responsive to national initiatives which need HL7 standards.  It's been more than a decade since I joined and first heard the phrase "one member one vote", and while we have made progress on that front, we still haven't achieved that goal.

At the same time, we've taken a tremendous shift towards implementers of our standards, with initiatives such as freeing HL7 IP which I've been a part of, and in the development of implementer specifications like FHIR, which I've also been a strong supporter of.

So, why would you vote for me?

HL7 will be a different organization in four years.  That isn't a promise, nor a prediction, it's a simple fact.  I think the organization needs leadership that recognizes the need for change, and that is willing to act in bringing about that change.  We've made some pretty good changes in the past couple of years, but the momentum needs to increase.  We haven't stopped changing, and to grow, we need even more.  We need to complete the journey of one-member one-vote that we started a decade ago, and we need to complete the major transformation of the business model of this organization that started with our free IP initiative.  In some ways, we also need to return to our roots of developing standards for those who implement them, and focus on our customers.  You should vote for me if you think I'm the right person to lead those changes.


P.S.  And if you feel like Doug or Calvin is the right person, you should vote for them.  Like I said at the beginning of the post, there are a lot of great choices available.


  1. Good to see that you're a candidate, and I agree that the three canidates listed in your post bring a lot of experience to the table, be it in different areas.

    Being a European, and being involved in the day to day use of HL7s standards in multiple countries I agree that internationalization of the organisation is necessary. Not just for the countries in my back yard, but also for the US. Yes, one wishes to be sensitive to the requirements of national initiatives (be they large or small), but at the same time one doesn't wish such requirements to have too much of an impact on the use of HL7s standards by other national initiatives. This may require that we bring the concept of HL7 US back to the table, inclusive of any financial consequences that this may have for the international organization, as well as the topic of incorporating the affiliates as part of HL7 instead of them just being affiliated with HL7. Controversial topics - but we may have to take the plunge. HL7 still has a long way to go before it can be truly called "HL7 International".

    Given that all candidates are from the US - I'd be looking for the experience of the candidates with the use of HL7s standards outside of the US, their sensibility as to the requirements of other countries and national initiatives - remember that HL7s most important area of growth lies outside of the US, not within it - the US market is pretty well covered.

    At this point in time a non-US candidate (and I'm not saying they'd be any better in dealing with internationalization than a US candidate, mind you) effectively doesn't stand a chance of being elected - one member one vote (which we introduced at the meeting in Cologne in 2006) is intended to change that.

    1. I've done just a bit of work Internationally ;-) Most of the products I have worked with are used around the world.