Freeing HL7 Standards Supports Global Product Development

Keith Boone

Creating standards can take a long time.  Eventually, you have to set them free.  GE Healthcare is proud to have played a role in Health Level Seven’s major announcement earlier this month that it will be making its standards freely available for all to implement.

My colleague,  Mark Dente, MD, VP of GE Healthcare IT, and Chief Medical Officer, is also a member of the HL7 Advisory Council.  The council met last month with the HL7 executive leadership. Dr. Dente and other members of that body recommended to the executive leadership and board of HL7 that it was time to make HL7’s standards freely available.  After two days of discussion and planning, I and every other member of the HL7 board voted unanimously to do so.

In so doing, HL7 is taking a significant risk that members will continue to join and to develop the standards that are needed in Healthcare.  If access to the standards is no longer a benefit of membership in HL7, why should an organization remain a member?

In order for our customers to take the greatest advantage of GE Healthcare products, they must be able to interoperate with other products developed all around the globe.  Like any other company, GE Healthcare relies on HL7 and other interoperability standards to ensure that products we develop globally work well with those developed by others.  But GE Healthcare also relies on these standards to ensure that products we develop in Brazil, China, India, Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world can also work well with each other.  It is only through the use of interoperability standards created by international organizations like HL7 that we are able to deliver the best experience with those products to our customers.

GE Healthcare proudly supports HL7 in its efforts to make interoperability standards more widely accessible.  We believe that taking this action will make the standards more widely implemented, and contribute to strong growth of not only the HL7 organization, but also to members like GE Healthcare, and the users of those standards, including our customers.

Shortly after the decision was made, Dr. Charles Jaffe, CEO of HL7, asked GE Healthcare and other HL7 benefactors to make a three-year commitment to remain as organizational benefactors.  GE Healthcare has been a benefactor of HL7 for more than a decade, and will continue to support the organization as Dr. Jaffe requested.  According to Dr. Dente: “This is an easy decision.  Will GE continue to support an organization we have supported for more than a decade, and which help us to improve the user experience of our customers?  Of course we will. It’s simply the right thing to do.”


Keith W. Boone is a member of the GE Healthcare Standards and Interoperability team, and has been recently re-elected for a second term to the HL7 Board.  Dr. Mark Dente is CMO of GE Healthcare IT, and a member of the HL7 Advisory Council.

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