As outlined by CTO John Quinn in the September HL7 Newsletter, the HL7 Architecture Review Board (ArB) has been asked to produce an architectural approach and framework for the development and use of HL7 standards from a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) perspective. A SOA approach was adopted as it is well suited for addressing the challenges faced by the consumers of HL7 products given that they, and many of their customers, are increasingly involved in the many large scale eHealth initiatives underway globally.
The working title for ArB's work is the "Services Aware Enterprise Architecture Framework" (SAEAF). (NOTE: In January 2010 this was renamed to Services Aware Interoperability Framework - SAIF)
The ArB members participating in this work have many years of experience in working within HL7 working groups as well as in building enterprise architectures for the organizations and customers for which they work in their "day jobs". In addition, the ArB also includes members who are versed in Services Oriented Architectures. The ARB reports directly to the CTO and provides recommendations to the HL7 Technical Steering Committee (TSC).
In the course of the initial work on SAEAF, it became increasingly clear that much of the methodology and context-setting work, generally considered as pre-requisite for services oriented implementations, would improve the ability of HL7 standards consumers to effectively utilize HL7 standards products. This includes ways of better expressing the behavioural dynamics of HL7 enabled systems, and providing the ability to assert conformance statements and test for them. In this sense, much of the real value of this work is that the framework may be applied to multiple standards implementation models, whether they be services, HL7 messages, or CDA's. All of these mechanisms can provide values in a SOA approach, ideally leveraging a common set of expressions of business requirements and architectural approach.
While the SOA approach offers HL7 members the opportunity to better meet the needs of an expanding and evolving customer base, it is very important that this work make effective use of the tremendous applied knowledge in our HL7 standards development community and the work already done, especially in the work on HL7 v3.0 and the RIM. It is equally important that the deployment of any SOA approach within the organization be done as gracefully as possible, with the understanding there is a sense of urgency in our customers to help them in meeting their interoperability challenges.
To achieve this, the ArB is developing a communications and engagement strategy that will provide WG Co-chairs with working materials and opportunities for they, and their WG members, to contribute to and shape this work. This engagement begins in the Sept 2008 WG meeting and will continue at least through (and between) the next 3 WG meetings. Presentation materials are being developed that are suitable for different audiences, and a SAEAF white paper will be distributed at the close of the Sept meeting for comments and review in the January 2009 meeting. In addition, the ArB will be documenting examples of how the framework works and how these principles have been successfully used elsewhere. The ArB anticipates using teleconferences and webcasts as part of the communications strategy.