Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Milestone for Interoperability

Today, HL7 announced its decision to make much of its intellectual property, including standards, freely available under licensing terms. . The new policy is expected to take effect in the first quarter of 2013.

Why is this so important?

Over the past few years the HIT Standards Panel  (HITSP) and the HIT Standards Committee (HITSC) have developed standards readiness/standards maturity and adaptability evaluation metrics.    Each has included implementation guide accessibility, licensing permissiveness, and affordability.

When federal advisory committees have chosen HL7 standards as the most appropriate for the clinical need, some have commented that the intellectual property is only available with HL7 membership and thus it is not easily accessible.

Today's announcement eliminates that concern.

HL7 intellectual property will become free, but not open source i.e. HL7 will still retain copyright and the usual consensus processes will still be used to maintain and improve standards.  However, anyone will be able to license the intellectual property without charge.

HL7 and the teams that worked on this radical transformation of HL7's policies should be congratulated.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 depends upon many HL7 standards -HL77 2.51 for transactions and Consolidated CDA for summaries.   Today's announcement is very timely and we can expect that the Meaningful Use Stage 2 HL7 intellectual property will be available without charge to all stakeholders in the first quarter 2013, months before the first reporting period for October 1, 2014 attestation begins.

For more details, here's the press release about HL7's achievement.

Today is a milestone for interoperability and the entire HIT industry should offer their thanks.
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