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Implementation FAQ:Getting started

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How does one get started with HL7v3

Such a general question about making use of V3 is really hard to answer. See Overcoming the Learning Curve for best practices and recommendations.

The HL7v3 Normative Edition is the most systematic source for the HL7 V3 information you could use. The Development Edition provides more recent material that is still going through the balloting process. The only answer I can give is to go through the most recent ballot package starting with the V3 guide. Then read the sections on data types, the RIM, messaging infrastructure, the XML ITS, and the domain sections that cover the application or applications of interest. Read the data types section with great care.

However, it might be more useful to answer with a question instead. Can you provide more information on what you would like to do with V3? The more detail you can give, the more we can offer focused suggestions. Questions should be posted to one of the work group e-mail lists -- this is better than emailing individuals because you have a wider pool to get responses from, and the responses that you give will be reviewed (and commented on if need be) by others on the list -- so you are more likely to get a timely answer, and it is more likely to be useful. To find a work group e-mail list go to and browse the work group pages for one that seems closest to the issue you are interested in and then register on their e-mail list. Messages to the e-mail lists are harvested for material to go into this implementation FAQ, and into the standard itself, so that others do not have to ask the same question in future.

See also

There are a number of books that cover HL7 version 3. The following book is suitable as a starting point; it is available via the online store of

Understanding Version 3 Guide
A primer on the HL7 Version 3 Communication Standard
This primer is aimed at anyone with an interest in healthcare messaging. It explains the terms it
uses and therefore does not require any specific background in the area. Through this primer, 
we hope that HL7 members across the world will be in a position to understand the implications of 
HL7 version 3 and how it can help with the development of healthcare communications in their