Product PracGuidSOA

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Product Brief - Practical Guide for SOA in Healthcare

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Product Name

Practical Guide for SOA in Healthcare


Standard Category


Integration Paradigm





The Practical Guide for SOA in Healthcare is an informative document that was produced jointly by the HL7 SOA Working Group in collaboration with the OMG Healthcare Domain Task Force under the auspices of the Healthcare Services Specification Project (HSSP). The Practical Guide was created to help assist organizations that are either considering or are doing projects involving SOA to make effective decisions and to understand how SOA might fit into their organizational landscape. Many people find that it difficult to determine “how to get started” and lack an approach for doing so— a void this document is hoping to address.


Using a fictitious organization—SampleHealth—as a backdrop, the Practical Guide discusses a multi-step approach on how to plan, design, implement, deploy, and support a SOA environment. Consciously limited to 50 pages, this document provides a summary overview for understanding the key issues involved with such a program and one approach that has been used successfully in many organizations. Within the document, services such as those specified by HL7 appear as specific examples, demonstrating how these industry standards might be used to promote interoperability and viability within an organizational context.

Why produce an informative reference instead of a standard?

As participants in standardization work, we are cognizant that industry standards ascribe ways to achieve a specific objective and are prescriptive about how to do so. As a group, we felt that it would be overstepping to define how organizations should implement SOA, opting instead to provide guidance that would be useful with the expectation that needs change and this advice would be tailored to meet specific situational requirements.

How does this relate to the OMG Technical Specification and to the Healthcare Services Specification Project?

The Practical Guide was developed in concert with several of the HSSP specifications, and in fact cites many of these standards as examples throughout the document. Note that HSSP standards are both HL7 standards and often OMG standards as well. One of the principal reasons for authoring the document was in part to address the numerous queries received about these standards and how they were intended to be used. By design, HSSP standards tend to be fairly generic and abstract, maximizing their flexibility for use in multiple situations. Unfortunately, that very design benefit makes them harder to understand and less self-evident on how they would be used and useful. The Practical Guide attempts to resolve these ambiguities by placing the abstract specifications into a real-world context.

How does this relate to the HL7 Services-Aware Enterprise Architecture Framework?

In 2008, HL7 embarked upon developing its Services-Aware Enterprise Architecture Framework (SAEAF). SAEAF will be aligning the broad range of HL7 specifications— including services, messages, and document standards—to a consistent approach across the whole of HL7’s offerings. We anticipate that some elements of the SAEAF will influence the steps outlined in the Practical Guide. Those portions of the SAEAF that are appropriate to the target audience of this document will be incorporated into future revisions of the document.

Business Case (Intended Use, Customers)


Implementations/ Case Studies (Actual Users)


Work Groups


Certification Available
  • none


Relationship to/ Dependencies on, other standards

Links to current projects in development