HL7 bright idea becomes 'most significant standards development in the past decade'

Health Level Seven International (HL7) announced its decision to spread the seeds of its brain trust today, officially sanctioning much of its intellectual property (IP) as free-to-use under licensing terms.

Hailed by HL7 representatives as a manifestation of the non-profit’s commitment to the betterment of healthcare worldwide, the decision allows for all organization stakeholders to access the popular fruits of HL7 labor — its HIT standards.

[See also: HL7 extends membership program to caregivers]

"HL7’s vision is to make its collaborative, consensus-driven standards the best and most widely used in healthcare," said Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD, CEO of HL7, in a press release. "By eliminating this barrier to implementation, we can come closer to realizing our goal, in which healthcare IT can reduce costs and improve the quality of care. Coupled with increasing government demand for standards that do not require a licensing fee, our decision to move toward free standards is perfectly aligned. To this end, we have already received enthusiastic support for this decision from key healthcare stakeholders."

The organization aims to test its volunteer-created standards and other properties designated as "intellectual" over the course of several months before releasing said brainchildren unto the international healthcare community. Interim plans include maintaining the traditional IP/membership model, which allows for opt-in users to access and implement HL7 standards. Following the analysis period, HL7 expects these permissions to be independent of HL7 membership. For current members, HL7 vows consultation to establish customer desired additives that will ensure their investment remains valuable.    

[See also: HIT Standards Committee shines spotlight on information exchange]

Although the policy is slated to take effect sometime during the first quarter of 2013, physician constituents and other medical specialists are regarding it as a motion sure to impact the industry in a positive, meaningful way.

“This announcement is the most significant standards development in the past decade, said John Halamka, MD, MS, chief information officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, in a press release. “It ensures that every stakeholder will have ready access to the content standards they need for Meaningful Use. Enormous thanks to everyone who worked on this effort.”

“The IP from HL7 is crucial to achieving interoperability among healthcare providers,” added Christopher G. Chute, MD, DrPH, Chair, ISO TC215 on Health Informatics. “It enables efficient and effective care across multidisciplinary teams that increasingly are the norm for healthcare.  HL7’s decision to make these resources effectively a public good is hugely welcome and will accelerate their value to society and patients everywhere.  HL7 now more than ever deserves support and membership from the broader health community to ensure these resource remain state-of-the-art and freely available.”

[See also: Meaningful use Q&A with AAFP’s Steven Waldren, MD]

Find more information on HL7 standards and IP here.

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