The unanswered question

By Keith W. Boone
02:18 PM
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Where does a newbie go to get more information about HL7?

That's a question I get about 5 times a month, and which I'm sure many HL7 members and staff get over and over again.  The person asking the question isn't asking about where to find the HL7 website.  I've never been able to satisfactorily answer that question, and I recently discovered why.  The reason is that the answer varies depending on who is asking it.

The dialogue usually goes like this:

Q: Where do I go to find out more about HL7?
Me: Well, what are you trying to do?
Q: I'm a _____, and we do _____, and I'm presently trying to ____ so where should I go?

Fill in the first blank with:

  • Software Developer
  • System Architect
  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Public Health Official
  • Informatician
  • Insurer
  • Pharmaceutical Executive
  • Executive at a Hospital
  • Executive at a Vendor Organization
  • Consultant
  • Student
  • Government Official
  • Researcher
  • et cetera

Fill in the second blank with:

  • Make EHR Systems
  • Make Radiology Systems
  • Make Immunization Information Systems
  • Make Patient Monitors
  • Make Personal Health Records
  • Make Health Information Exchange Systems
  • Make Patient Registration Systems
  • Make ePrescribing Systems
  • Make Master Patient Index Systems
  • Make Medical Devices
  • Generate Clinical Guidelines
  • Create Quality Measures
  • Use (any of the above)
  • Integrate (any of the above)
  • Make Drugs
  • Regulate (any of the above)

Then fill in the next blank with any of the following:

  • Integrate with (any of the previous)
  • Comply with Regulation
  • Develop a new system to do something useful
  • Understand how I can use ____ HL7 Standard
  • Help to develop ____ HL7 Standard
  • Find out more about ____ HL7 Standard

Depending on how they fill in the blanks, the answer varies.  Most of the answers can be resolved in a few clicks from the HL7 website.  Understanding the highway system (the questions to answer), maybe now we can start building the map.