Inventory of Health Care Information Standards. HL7 Version 3 Message Development Framework


I. Category/Classification


II. Standards Development Organization (SDOs)

Developed by the Quality Assurance/Data Modeling Committee of Health Level 7

III. ANSI Accreditation

HL7 is ANSI Accredited

IV Name of framework, architecture or model

Message Development Framework for HL7 Version 3

V. Contact for More Information:

George W. Beeler, Jr.


voice: 507-284-9129

fax: 507-284-0796

IV. Description of framework, architecture or model

The intent of this framework is to provide a methodology for developing healthcare information interchange messages. This methodology will be used for HL7 Versions 3.0 and beyond. The framework defines all of the steps in the message development process to be used by HL7. It includes the criteria for passing from step to step and the methods of documentation of the deliverables at each step.

The scope of applicability of the framework is healthcare information interchange standards. The messages defined as a result of this process may be implemented either as ASCII strings in a variety of formats or as data structures that can be interchanged with a variety of object-based protocols.

The framework is based upon a set of fully defined inter-linked models of the healthcare and messaging environment. It includes a Use Case Model for the standard; an Information Model for the healthcare domain about which messages are being sent; an Interaction Model that specifies the roles of systems that are exchanging information according to these standards; and a Message Specification Model which can be transformed to support a variety of information interchange protocols.

The framework has been used in prototype situations within HL7. It will be implemented as a working framework in January 1997. The necessary tooling to support the framework and the methodologies within the framework will be selected but have not been selected at this point.

VII. Readiness of framework, architecture or model

Versions of this framework have been published and distributed at HL7 meetings. The most recent version (as of November 6, 1996) can be found at A subsequent draft will be released about January 1, 1997.

This is a draft framework. Even after it is implemented, it will undergo continuing evolution. It has only been implemented in prototype circumstances. It will be brought into full use in January 1997.

The draft referenced above is relatively complete, but the level of detail varies in different sections of the framework. As noted, the more or less final version is intended for delivery at the HL7 meetings the third week of January 1997.

This framework is not dependent on the availability of any particular tool. It will, however, be necessary to provide tooling for an organization such as HL7 to take full advantage of such a framework. There is no dependence on an RFI or RFP process.

The overall process upon which this framework is based derives from the CEN TC251 activities. Although the process is not applied to a large organization, the CEN efforts do provide an existence proof that this methodology will lead to usable message standards.

VIII Indicator of Market Acceptance

As this framework has been published electronically, we cannot tell how many copies have been requested or distributed.

The suggestion that we respond as to plans for vendors or government agencies to use this specification seems at odds with the declared scope for the inventory said "those FAMS which promote interoperability among healthcare information standards." This framework is designed to be used within a standards organization to develop compatible, model-based message specifications. Thus, it seems unclear how many vendors or government agencies might use this framework. At present, we know only of plans to use it within HL7.

A similar methodology was developed by CEN TC251. The HL7 MDF is based on that prior work and has acknowledged that work.

IX Level of Specificity

I am uncertain of the intent of this question and therefore cannot respond.

X Identifiable Costs

Costs for using this framework are not fully known. Cost of licensure from HL7 will be nominal, on the order of $250 to purchase a copy of the specification. Time frames for education, training, and implementation are entirely dependent upon the readiness of the organization adopting this framework to step up to the technological concepts embedded within it. It needs a group that is at least comfortable with object-based modeling and object-related specifications.