Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Building Blocks

If you are like me, you probably had a number of different "construction" toys growing up.  I had Tinker Toys, Lego blocks, Lincoln Logs and an Erector set.  In fact, I still have the Lego and Erector set, although they don't get much use any more.  Mostly because I get enough time to construct cool stuff for my day job.

I ran across this video this morning.  You can probably relate.

These are my building blocks today:

  • CDA Templates
  • FHIR Resources (and Argonaut Profiles of them)
  • IHE Cross Enterprise Document Sharing Family of Profiles
    • XCA, XDS, XDR and XDM
  • IHE Mobile Access to Health Documents (MHD) [Basically a FHIR replacement for the above]
  • OAuth2
  • TLS
  • FHIR Audit Resource
I've done CDA to FHIR transformation and visa versa, CDA to XD*, XD* to MHD and MHD to XD*, and mapped ATNA to the FHIR Audit Resource.

I have the "adapter kit", and I've also built some adapters for X12 and HL7 V2 (a whole chapter of the CDA Book is devoted to V2 to CDA transformation, and I've also done the reverse).

Each of these "building block kits" has a slightly different way of doing things, but since they were built incrementally, usually with knowledge of at least one predecessor, there's some clear backward compatibility built in [although not exposed to those unfamiliar with the history of these works].

If you want to put wheels on something, there's a Lego way to do that, or a Tinker toy way, or an Erector set way (I haven't really figured out how to do it with Lincoln logs yet), and the same is true for my "adult set" of toys.  And just because I can do the same thing with both, the amount of effort invested varies.

FHIR is extremely promising as a way forward, because it continues to incorporate the learnings from previous efforts.  But we aren't all the way there yet.  I have a significant investment in Lego, and it's wickedly cool and easy to put together.  But it doesn't quite have the strength to span long distances with great weight reliably and at the same cost per piece the way that an erector set does (but I suspect it will get there).

  1. Will we get there?  Eventually I think we will.  
  2. But we've also had Highlander for 30 years.  Have we reached only one yet?  No.
  3. Is it going to happen soon?  Yes.  
  4. Soon enough to make everyone happy? Surely not, because that would have meant we had reached that point a decade ago.


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