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HL7 Pakistan Affiliation

It was dream yesterday but reality today that Pakistan is given 37th affiliate status by HL7 International. The affiliation is approved after several stages to pass like application submission, interviews of five stake holders (associated with academia, healthcare providers, vendors and government agencies) and finally the approval after recommendation of Due Diligence Committee and chairs of international affiliates. HLH team remained active during the course of application process and timely fulfilled the requirements and achieves this objective. HL7 Pakistan was formally invited to participate in 24th Plenary and Working Group Meeting of HL7 being held at Cambridge MA, USA on 3-8th October 2010. I (Mr. Muhammad Afzal, Team Lead HLH) participated in this meeting as a representative of Pakistan.

On first day (Sunday, October 3, 2010) of meeting as usual there was an international affiliate council meeting where Pakistan was formally announced as new affiliate member of HL7. Catherine Chronaki (Affiliate Liaison) in her speech welcomed Pakistan and invite chair (provisional) to seat in the inner circle of table where “HL7 Pakistan” tag was placed. Meeting participants clipped to welcome the representative of Pakistan. Micheal Van (Affiliate Director) appreciated the efforts and contribution made by Pakistan and once again requests the participants to clap for HL7 Pakistan.

On second day (Monday, October 4, 2010) I attended two meetings; one on education and other on marketing. Education meeting is basically related to discuss academic part of the meeting like tutorials, eLearning, curriculum, speakers, instructors and certifications. In marketing meeting basic discussion was on how to make strengthen the academia part so that we can reach to the knowledge society of the world existed in the form of universities.

On third day (Tuesday, October 5, 2010) I joined the EHR work group meeting. This time discussion topic in EHR meeting was on second release of EHR Functional Model. On the same day, I also met with Gora Datta (US ) to discuss various obstacles to be faced by HL7 Pakistan as new member. We talked on multiple topic including organizational structure, membership plan and eLearning etc.

On fourth day (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) it was organized a formal agreement ceremony for Pakistan in the morning. I signed the agreement on behalf of chair of Pakistan Dr. Hafiz Farooq Ahmad. In ceremony CEO of HL7 International Charles Jaffe along with other officials at large also participated. Mr. Jaffe and Mr. Mark McDougall signed the agreement from Hl7 International. At evening, I attended EHR and SOA combined meeting. This was very important meeting to highlight the role of SOA in EHR.

On fifth day (Thursday, October 7, 2010) I attended the International Mentor Committee meeting in morning. In this meeting, the focus is as how to support and motivate countries from the world to become HL7 affiliate. Also provide guidelines to the new affiliates. I raised many questions in this meeting regarding HL7 Pakistan to an active affiliate. There is concept of Luncheon meeting in every WGM of HL7. A special lunch is offered to chairs of international affiliate and the meeting is continued at lunch and after lunch.

On last day (Friday, October 8, 2010) I participated in RIMBA Working Group. I discussed with co-chair of RIMBA Mr. Rene about creation of local group of RIMBA in Pakistan. He appreciated the idea and extends his full support for this group. At the same day, I along with some other meeting participants visited a local hospital at Boston US namely Dana-Farber.

various shapes and colors. Overall this was highly important and result oriented meeting to attend. We learned a lot from those who have already this experience. At return we are at the position to develop structure for HL7 Pakistan and the associated sustaining strategy to remain an active affiliate member in the world.

HLH Member Participation January 2010 HL7 Working Group Meeting at Phoenix USA

HL7 Working Group Meetings are held three times per year at varying locations. These Working Group Meetings serve two important purposes:

  1. 1. They give the HL7 work groups a chance to meet face-to-face to work on the standards;
  2. They provide an invaluable educational resource for the healthcare IT community.

HL7 has more than 40 work groups dedicated to specialized areas of interest such as Orders and Observations and Electronic Health Records. These work groups are directly responsible for the content of the standards and spend much of their time at the Working Group Meetings hard at work on standards development. Attending a Working Group Meeting can be a great way to get a handle on what is going on in a particular area, and everyone attending an HL7 Working Group Meeting is invited to attend any of the Working Group Meetings.

January 2010 Working Group Meeting is held at Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix Arizona, USA. This Working Group Meeting offered numerous educational opportunities. Sessions covered a full range of HL7-specific topics such as Version 2.x Implementation, Version 3, and the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), among others. Educational sessions also branched out to cover general interest industry topics such as the Electronic Health Record, XML and Vocabulary Terminology.

It is awe-inspiring to share the success of HL7 Pakistan correct submission of application of getting affiliate status. There are thirty three countries already affiliated. We are the next in this run. Fortunately, one member from Pakistan (Mr. Muhammad Afzal, Team Lead HLH Project, SEECS NUST) participated in this meeting and submitted this application by hand to the HL7 authority. This participation was extremely important from several perspectives. One important aspect is that he answered to queries face-to-face to the directors responsible for taking care of application. During the visit, he has several formal and informal meetings with authorized members of HL7 to depend Pakistan getting Affiliate status. He presented Pakistan’s progress in HL7 domain by highlighting more the HLH project in “International Affiliate Council Meeting”. During this visit, it is learned that “How to sustain affiliate status once Pakistan becomes affiliated”.

The submitted application has passed successfully the first stage that is technical evaluation stage. It is under evaluation of due diligence committee for further perusal and approval. Apart from affiliation, he attended several technical meetings, tutorials and presentations. The most important of them are as follows:

  • Tutorial on “HL7 Version 3 Implementation Mechanics”
  • Tutorial on “RIM Certification Exam Review”
  • Tutorial on “SAEFE”
  • Workshop on “Research Innovations”
  • International Affiliate Council Meeting
  • International Council Meeting
  • E-Learning Session
  • Electronic Health Record Session

SKMCH & SEECS NUST Collaboration

Shaukat Khanam Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center (SKMCH & RC) was established over two decades ago, excellently serving and caring cancer patients irrespective of their inability to pay costs. SKMCH is charitable organization, funds are provided by the well wishers in the form of donations across the globe.

Being an excellent research center for cancer diseases, SKMCH has developed a comprehensive Hospital Management and Information System (HMIS) to automate various workflows used in hospitals. Automation of workflows has been achieved in various departments including Anesthesiology, Clinical Radiology, Medical Oncology, Pharmacy and Pathology. Existing data storage management system is based on Oracle that is fulfilling their local requirements in a well mannered way but the problem is faced in sharing information outside the organization. In other words, the system does not support interoperable communication. To solve this problem, there is a need of using existing healthcare interoperability standard that allows their system to exchange information outside the organization. HL7 (Health Level Seven) is a leading healthcare standard, providing specifications in clinical and administrative domains in order to achieve cross domain interoperability. Using HL7 messaging standard, information related to different domains can be exchanged outside the boundary of the organization.

To get rid of the heterogeneity problem and avoiding efforts required for interoperable HMIS from scratch, SKMCH proceeds for joint collaboration with Health Life Horizon (HLH) team of NUST SEECS. According to this agreement, SKMCH team will develop HL7 based interoperable system for HMIS with joint efforts of HLH Team at SEECS. In this connection, HLH team has visited four times SKMCH for analyzing their system and feasibility of the project. SKMCH MIS team has also visited SEECS from 5th-9th April 2010.

Comments from SKMCH&RC MIS Team

We had about ten sessions, full of interaction and learning activities. The newly and purpose built NUST campus has plenty of educational institutes and research centers with industrial sector involved. SEECS is also very active in research and academic perspectives. Plenty of research labs, research groups are working there. Very appreciable and newly started in Pakistan, SEECS has resided many well known companies who work there with SEECS students on many projects. All the staff is highly educated with research background, leading the institute with their expertise. Our stay at SEECS was very well organized and managed with all facilities. All Staff, especially administration’s cooperation is highly appreciable. We are especially thankful of Dr. Hafiz Farooq Ahmad and his team (HLH Group).


  • Technology Transfer of HL7 V 3.0 including its design and implementation mechanics is one of the objectives achieved at satisfactory level for both SKMCH and NUST.
  • Further collaboration in term of conduction final year project of bachelor students.

HL7 System Deployment at CITILab

NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS) is one of the few institutions with a dynamic and progressive vision to transform the culture of engineering and computer education/research in Pakistan. NUST also stands out amongst the national seats of higher learning because of the rich diversity of its academic programs embracing a variety of disciplines from Engineering and IT to Health and Medical Sciences. At NUST SEECS, we have initiated a project titled “Health Life Horizon (HLH): Design & Implementation of Health Level Seven (HL7) Open Source Application for Interoperable e-Health Services”. The project is sponsored by National ICT R&D Funds. Under this project, we are developing an open source tool to facilitate HL7 Version 3 compliant interfaces for health information systems interoperability. As a case study, we were interested to test our system in a real environment to gain confidence before releasing the system as an open source. For the said purpose, we selected CITIlab due to its well established information system, the best-suited environment for conducting tests and easy access.

CITILab is a renowned medical laboratory in Pakistan, provides patients with medical test services. It has several branches and specimen collection points in different cities of Pakistan where every branch/collection point has their own Laboratory Information System. However, there is no electronic way to exchange messages among these branches; rather they are using mailing service and phone calls to accomplish their daily tasks. They have keen interest to enhance their systems functionalities to the level of automatic and standard exchange of laboratory messages in a secure, reliable and interoperable way. After deep analysis of CITILab functional and non-functional requirements, Health Life Horizon Team has successfully deployed initial working system at their premises. The system is in beta testing phase at CITILab, where the information experts of CITILab are testing the deployed system along with HLH testing team.

The deployed system is intended to solve following issues of CITI lab current environment:

  • Mailing cost overheads
  • Delays in transferring test orders or result reports via courier services
  • Chances of errors if the results are dictated via phone and also the costs overheads associated with calls.
  • Time overheads of making duplicate entries once at collection point and then at main center.
  • Unnecessary human intervention at receiver side to enter the information.

HLH team has organized an important meeting by inviting various stakeholders ranging from academia, industry, healthcare professionals, and policy makers on July, 2009. The purpose of this meeting was to promote the awareness of HL7 and create synergic environment among the invited stakeholders. In this meeting, Dr. Bader-i-Alam (Pathologist at CITILab) was invited to represent the CITIlab. He commented the deployed system in these words; “I am very much happy with HLH team for their dedicated efforts especially the team leads who spent hours of hours with us for requirement analysis. I am very much hopeful that the undersigned system will solve our current problems with respect to time, errors and costs.”

CITILab provided their best support in accomplishing our objectives. Dr. Bader-i-Alam, having good expertise in healthcare information systems, has helped in the deploying the system. We are highly thankful to CITILab for making our efforts as a success story and we will further assure to assist them in future as well.

Last but not the least; we express our gratitude to ICT R&D for providing opportunities of creating synergy between academia and industry; and also National University of Science & Technology (NUST) for providing a platform for the students to make efforts in proper direction.

Visit to Japan and Pakistan Successful Contributions

In order to promote the HL7 efforts globally, in the middle of May, 09, Project Director along with both Team Leads of HLH project had the honor to visit Japan for attending 10th International HL7 Interoperability Conference (IHIC), 2009 and 22nd Working Group Meeting organized by HL7 Inc. The objective of conference was to share research aspects in the HL7 domain specifically the interoperability of healthcare systems. While in meeting, representatives from various countries share their progress in HL7 domain. HL7 is big community arrange IHIC every year and Working Group meeting on quarterly basis. Three HLH project members; Dr. Hafiz Farooq Ahmad (HLH Project Director), Mr. Maqbool Hussain and Mr. Muhammad Afzal (HLH Project Team Leads) presented research papers in IHIC conference on (8-9)th May, 09. Total of five publications from Pakistan has created countable impression over the audiences. Chair of the session has announced a special clipping for nice contributions from Pakistan. Not only the number of paper was greater than any country of the world rather the problems addressed in these papers are viable at international forum. These presentations took us to a good position. After conference, it was five days long 22nd Working Group meeting organized by HL7 Inc, US. Team Leads attended this meeting by participating several important meetings like Affiliate Council Meeting, e-Learning session and HL7 RIM Certification Review in additional to various important tutorials on HL7. 18 affiliate members presented progress report out of total 33 affiliates of HL7. The meeting anchor namely Robert welcomed Pakistani as a first time attendee. The HL7 Board Director Micheal has shared with other meeting members that we must put Pakistan on agenda for next affiliation. Affiliate Director (Catherene Chronaki) has set special meeting to guide us of “How to become HL7 affiliate”. Overall, it was a wonderful visit and Pakistan created its space in HL7 community in a nice way. Pakistan is now one of the strong candidates to become HL7 affliate.

Principal Investigator
Funding Agency
HL7 Organization
10th International HL7 Interoperability Conference 2009
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)