Monday, April 18, 2016

HL7 v2 vs FHIR

I was in a discussion around HL7 v2 vs FHIR lately. The technical merits of FHIR were not being debated. The technical merits were understood and agreed. The only outstanding difference is network bandwidth efficiency and processing expense. There is really nothing one can do in FHIR that one can't do in HL7 v2. Yet the question persisted, what is the reason why FHIR will win over a more compact solution like HL7 v2?

Simply: The people that know HL7 v2 are retiring. 

At best there is a small fixed pool of people today that understand HL7 v2; while the need to enable Interoperability in Healthcare is expanding fast. The new developers come to the healthcare world ready to use the technologies that FHIR is based on. They can be productive right away. Yet to re-train them on HL7 v2 is expensive and time consuming. The efficiency of the network bandwidth is not critical, Networks get faster, CPUs get faster, the technology will overcome.

The productivity of new developers is critical.