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Friday, February 13, 2015

The Best Standards are International

What prompts this post is the fact that I'm preparing to head off to IHE meetings in a week in Paris, and that HL7's May Working Group meeting will also be in Paris this year.  The challenge for many people involved in standards development is the cost of participation.  US participants have it easy, because so many IHE and HL7 meetings are held somewhere in North America.  I'd say close to 90%.  And I'd guess about half of the DICOM meetings are held here too.  So complaints about the cost of travel fall on deaf ears in the International community, as they well should.  Most of them have a much greater expense than we here in the US do.

However, if we really want standards to be international, we have to realize that the US covers less than 5% of the world's population, and 25% of the world's GDP.  So if we (speaking as a US citizen) want the rest of the world to be using the same standards as we are, we need to reach out.  That means going out to International locations to create those standards.  I hope that future ONC plans on standards development address the need for standards to be international, and plan for international travel.  It drive me crazy that some of the best international standards efforts going on right now (e.g., FHIR, which was first launched by an Australian, and strongly led by a European and a Canadian) will be missing key participants from the US because they are "Federally" sponsored.  If, as a nation we want more respect in the international standards community, we need to stop acting in such an insular fashion.

I'm truly sorry that some of you cannot make it, or that to be engaged, some of you might have to be getting up at 3am. But I'm not apologetic at all that these activities are happening Internationally. Yes, I do understand it is expensive, and it has just as much a negative impact on my budget as it would on yours.  But it is what is necessary to ensure that the standards that are being developed are agreed and used to worldwide. Otherwise, our healthcare interoperability efforts will be just as successful as the Mars Climate Orbiter.

   Keith

P.S.  For those of you who can make it, thanks for making the effort.  For those of you who cannot, this is NOT directed at you, but rather the decision makers who won't let you.  Because I know most of you want to be there.

1 comment:

  1. The best standards are the ones that are used regardless of where they come from and who supports them.

    ReplyDelete