With the steady stream of updates about Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, health information exchanges, the Supreme Court’s pending decision on the Affordable Care Act and associated Accountable Care Organizations, it’s easy to forget that there is still plenty to learn about current health data standards.
HL7 standards are the foundation from which all new standards are derived. CMS announced February 23, 2012, that the future healthcare standard for the exchange for clinical data information will be Consolidated CDA , which consists of a set of templates that are derived from HL7 is a Standards Developing Organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to author consensus-based standards representing a board view from healthcare system stakeholders. HL7 has compiled a collection of message form... v3. While HL7 v3 has absolutely nothing in common with HL7 v2, practically all medical systems and devices operating inside modern healthcare facilities produce patient data using HL7 v2.
To exchange data with external providers using Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) HL7 CDA uses XML for encoding of the documents and breaks down the document in generic, unnamed, and non-templated sections. Documents can include discharge summaries, progress notes, history and physical reports,..., health providers must first be able to easily exchange HL7 v2 data internally.
Corepoint Health Product Manager Rob Brull, instructor of our CDA & CCD: First Steps  course, was recently interviewed by Healthcare IT News in an article titled “8 common questions about HL7 .” To prepare for the article, Rob first polled Corepoint Health support and implementation specialists to discover the most common questions they receive from customers. Here are the winners:
- What is HL7? 
- What is the difference between HL7 version 2 and HL7 version 3? 
- What are Z segments? 
- What is an ADT message? 
- What is an ORM message? 
- What is an ORU message? 
- What are HL7 separator characters? 
- What are HL7 escape sequences? 
We receive many other questions about HL7 health data standards from customers and from attendees at our HL7 training offerings. The fact that there are so many questions is no surprise – health data exchange is no cake walk, and it takes a lifetime of learning to keep skills sharp and to stay on top of the always changing field of health IT.
In addition to the above Healthcare IT News article, I recommend browsing our Healthcare Interoperability Glossary , where we offer an always-evolving A-Z list of terms and their definitions. We have also posted an extremely helpful HL7 Resources  page that provides more in-depth information regarding specific HL7 v2 segments and terms.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to use their social media channels to connect with pubications, organizations and individuals who produce good information. I, personally, have benefitted greatly from maintaining an online dialogue with health IT professionals to learn how they are meeting unique interoperability challenges and how they are preparing for future changes.
Several of us on the Corepoint Health team have found that Twitter is a great way to learn more daily about health IT. Connect with us there, and feel free to “pick our brains” about HL7: