Monday, October 5, 2009

HL7-v3-XML messages and ontologists

As I am not a great supporter of HL7-v3-XML messages (overcomplicated, probably based on an incorrect model, nearly impossible to implement), I am following the blog at
Barry Smith, a professor in philosophy at the university of Buffalo, and a well-known ontologist in the biopharma world, regularly attacks HL7 for it's way it develops "standards".
His two latest posts, are very interesting. First, he published a very challenging blog with the title "should an organization like HL7 be engaged in building standards?". Only two days later, there was a similar entry, but this time on Microsoft Healthvault.
But the latest post also contained a positive contribution: Smith proposes to start a new organization, with contributions from (at least) ontologists (of course), software engineers, domain specialists, and "persons with experience of and a track-record of success in implementing and brutally testing healthcare IT systems in real-world environments".
I think this is not a bad idea at all. Also in CDISC we see that some teams are nearly only consisting of domain experts, others nearly only of terminology experts, others have an overrepresentation of XML and software experts. But none of them has ontologists in its ranks, nor specialists in "brutally testing real-life IT systems" (although I am doing my best in the latter).
So I wonder whether the new SHARE initiative will have ontologists involved (I think it should), and later software specialists and testers. I think that within CDISC, we should not make the same error as HL7 did by generating standards which later proved to be nearly impossible to implement.

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