The following is the unedited text of an email from Brazilian delegate Beatriz de Faria Leao in response to questions about how the mentoring experience went, and what she felt the affiliate had gained from participating in the January '07 WGM.
"The Brazilian delegation comprised four people: Marivan Abrahão, MD, coordinator of the Brazilian HL7 Group, Jussara Macedo P. Rötzsch, MD - Manager of Standards at the Brazilian Regulatory Agency for Supplementary Health, Claudio Giulliano da Costa, MD - CIO of São Paulo City Health Department and I, a health informatics consultant, presently working with Claudio and Jussara on two very interesting projects. The first relates to TISS - the Brazilian standard for exchanging billing information between health care providers and payers. The project is coordinated by Dr. Jussara.
The other project, with Dr. Claudio aims at integrating SIGA Saúde - the Health Information System of São Paulo city, to 4 clinical labs that produce 1.5 million lab tests a month. The integration is to be achieved by using LOINC and HL7 version 3, SIGA Saúde has been deployed in some 400 primary care units and 30 specialized clinics, with 11 million patients registered. The integration project started two weeks ago with the first LOINC translations to Portuguese with Chemistry and Hematology Exams.
First we'd like to thank John Ritter, from Intel, who had the idea of taking us to the HL7 San Diego meeting and, of course Stevens Winkates from the USTDA that sponsored our trip. The HL7 meeting was very important for us and we're very thankful to all HL7 staff and specially our hosts Cheryl Warner and Jim Leach of Computer Frontiers. They were superb guardian angels and took really good care of us. They were there for us for anything we needed or wanted and they made our days at the HL7 very useful and worthy.
On the day we arrived in San Diego, Jim was at the airport waiting for us and told us "Don't worry HL7 is a big family - you're gonna see that." It's really amazing because we really felt so comfortable, so well treated, so among friends that I must say HL7 meetings have the warmest atmosphere I've ever seen in an international meeting.
Besides the new friends we made, it were very impressed to see the HL7 standard being constructed. The working groups meetings were very enticing and gave us trust and confidence on the HL7 standard and its processes for reaching consensus. It was very impressive to see an international group of people with different roles (vendors, government and users) making the standard evolve.
Another issue worth mentioning is that the most important topics in Health Informatics were discussed in HL7 - privacy, EHR functional model, software certification and the harmonization with international standards, as well as, the new initiative on clinical vocabularies.
Apart from attending sessions, we had very productive meetings with experts: Audrey E. Dickerson from HIMMS and ISO-TC 215, Don Mon from the CCHIT, Clem McDonald from NIH and LOINC. With Clem we had an almost 2 hours' talk about the São Paulo lab integration project - he gave us all the information to start the Portuguese translation and mapping of LOINC codes to the Brazilian vocabularies and with HL7 Educational Working Group. We also had very useful meetings with international HL7 affiliates - Helen Love and Mark Kohen from Canada Health Infoway and Sam Heard from Ocean Informatics. These meetings were very useful and we 'd like to thank all of them for their time and willingness to share their experience with us.
The San Diego HL7 meeting convinced us of pushing HL7 ahead in Brazil. Brazilian HL7 bylaws have been discussed and we shall have the first assembly meeting to officially create the group on February 27th. The São Paulo city integration project using HL7 v3 is moving fast and we shall have results by October 2007.
At last, we're very happy that our good friend Ed Hammond is again HL7 Chair. We wish him all the best and again would like to extend our gratitude to all HL7 Community. Maybe in the near future, not so far away, we can have a meeting in Brazil!!!
All the best and thanks for the opportunity to talk about our impressions.