I’ve talked about some features and issues with where I want to take the HL7 Accelerator.

Today’s post is more about why we should all care. After all, HL7 is a little protocol that some computers use to communicate, who cares?

In part, I want to talk about where HL7 stands in the world of it’s personal impact to you, your family and friends.

Have you seen a doctor recently? Maybe a family member had a check for swine flu, cholesterol or rheumatoid arthritis?

You have been touched by the HL7 Protocol. After all, where do you think your doctors gets the information from? That’s right, there is a diligent worker out there, that takes that sample of blood, skin or sputum and does some magic with it. The result is that they type in information into their Electronic Lab Notebook, or the device feeds it to the system.

From there, the path is somewhat convoluted. The LAB company (Quest, LABCORP and so on) then attempts to transmit that information electronically to your health care company… yes via HL7.

It then arrives, and they need to find you! What was your medical record number (oops, someone typed it in wrong) and update your electronic healthcare record (EHR).

There are many things that the EHR does, including billing your insurance company and so on, but as far as I’m concerned the NUT of the problem is, am I healthy!

The HL7 protocol was the first system to allow automatic updates on the patient health status.

When the CDC needs to be updated about a regional outbreak of some “notifiable” condition they get those results via an HL7 message.

So, the HL7 messaging system also tells us, is the country healthy?

HL7 Messages are the only electronic communication on the planet that could literally kill someone!

What if the HL7 message is delayed, misrouted or misapplied.

Aunt Sally could be diagnosed with a terrible disease that requires aggressive treatment, when actually all she had was gout!

The HL7 protocol is not an idle, irrelevant hard to understand messaging protocol, but instead is a critical element in the rapid, and accurate diagnosis and management of the entire patient experience.

Science fiction has predicted killer computer programs, I have the honor of actually working with that on a daily basis.

HL7, take care, we love it, but we know it’s value.

posted on Monday, January 24, 2011 8:34 PM

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