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Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Value of Standards Maintenance

We recently looked at two fairly simple issues on the DSTU Tracker on CCDA 2.1 in Structured Documents.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to break down the cost of this sort of effort.

To establish costs, we first need to establish the cost for one of the people involved.  Some of the effort in maintenance is discovery and diagnosis within an organization of an issue that needs to be raised up to the maintaining organization.  For US developers, I use an estimate of about $75/hr in costs, which averages over a range of salaries from Junior to Senior developer.  For senior staff, (architects, analysts and others) involved in HL7 standards calls, You can double or triple that, because these staff are much more senior.  I'd call it about $200/hr for that group.

On today's call, we addressed two simple issues.  Each of these issues likely involved about 4 hours of development time, 3 to analyze and assess, and 1 to convey the resulting problem to the organizations HL7 representative.  That representative has about two hours of preparation effort associated with each issue, 1 hour to learn and assess the issue with their developer, and another hour of research into the issue, resulting in the development of a change proposal.  Each issue took about 15 minutes to discuss, assess, and agree to a change on the call, with 24 people on the call ($4800/hr!)

4.0   *     75 =   300
2.0   *   200 =   800
0.25 * 4800 = 1200

So, for the two issues we addressed today, the approximate cost was almost $5,000, and these were SIMPLE ones.  More complex ones take much longer, often two or three committee calls, sometimes with the committee spending as much as two hours on the issue before coming to a resolution, and in many cases, between committee review, there's a smaller workgroup assessing the issue and proposing solutions (call it five people), which usually spend 2 or more hours on the topic ($1000 or more).

So, a single issue has a cost born by industry volunteers ranging from $2,300 to as much as $15,000.

Consolidated CDA has 255 comments against it today, each of which has been addressed at some point by the working group.  The value of this maintenance ranges from $0.5 to $3.8 million!

To come to a more precise estimate, we have to estimate how many of these issues fall into the easy category, how many fall into the hard, and how many are somewhere in between.  I'd estimate about 10% of issues are in the difficult category, about bit more than half in the easy category, and the rest somewhere in the middle (which I'd estimate costs about $6K).  It works out to about $2.1M for maintenance of CCDA 1.1.


1 comment:

  1. Cost for those paid to participate. Vs volunteers.
    Vs those that use the standard without participating... Any factoring in of that cohort?