Healthcare Services Specification Project
The Healthcare Services Specification Project (HSSP) is a standards development effort to create health industry service oriented architecture (SOA) standards supportive of the health care market sector. HSSP is a jointly sponsored activity operating within the Health Level Seven (HL7) and the Object Management Group (OMG) standards group. Formally beginning as a collaboration between the HL7 Service-oriented Architecture Special Interest Group and the OMG Healthcare Domain Task Force, HSSP is developing healthcare middleware standards addressing interoperability challenges.
The activity is an effort to create common “service interface specifications” that ultimately can be tractable within a Health IT context. The stated objective of the HSSP project is to create useful, usable healthcare standards that define the functions, semantics, and technology bindings supportive of system-level interoperability. To the extent possible, HSSP specifications complement existing work and standards.
A key tenet to the HSSP approach is to focus on practical needs, capitalizing on open industry participation and maximizing contributions from industry talent interested in engaging.
By design, HSSP specifications are applicable for use in multiple use contexts, including inter-enterprise, intra-enterprise, intra-product, and intra-implementation. In other words, nothing inherent in the standard work deliberately precludes their use in any targeted system setting.
The following is the stated Mission and Charter of the HSSP project, used with permission.
Recognizing the need for specifications for services to support healthcare IT as part of national infrastructures (such as US NHII, Australia’s HealthConnect and Finland's Terveyshanke), Health Level Seven and the Object Management Group have forged this agreement to collaborate to the advantage of the health domain sector. This charter outlines high-level distribution of responsibilities and separation of concerns specifically related to this services effort. Note that this joint effort between HL7 and OMG is not exclusive. Either organization may engage in independent efforts or similar joint efforts with others. This project is a collaborative effort between HL7 and OMG to identify and document service specifications, functionality, and conformance supportive and relevant to healthcare IT stakeholders and resulting in real-world implementations.
As part of this collaborative effort:
HL7 and OMG shall jointly identify the service candidates for specification and prioritize and select candidate services for specification and implementation, and jointly allocate functions to services. OMG members shall provide expertise in distributed architecture and implementation to HL7 activities to positively impact the selection of services and allocation of functions. HL7 members shall engage in the OMG RFP process to ensure consistency with the functional requirements.
HL7 shall elaborate the business functional needs, allocate functions to services, and develop conformance criteria for the services specified. HL7 shall also have responsibility for providing the information modeling and content in support of these services. All of the computationally independent work shall occur within HL7, as well as the functional conformance criteria assuring that service implementations meet their specified capability. In general, information models and content will be managed by other HL7 domain committees, and HSSP will work with those committees to define any additions or changes.
OMG shall refine the HL7 developed computationally independent specifications [functional, semantics, information model, terminology, etc.] resulting in computationally dependent standards and user, vendor, and reference implementations. OMG shall provide technical expertise such as Unified Modeling Language (UML) and Model-driven architecture (MDA), as well as leveraging multi-industry solutions. OMG shall leverage the strength of its adoption process to promote rapid standards development and marketplace product support given that submitters are required to produce implementations of the standards they specify.
As a project and through its presence in other organizations, the HSSP will provide an umbrella structure under which various subgroups will be chartered to carry out specific tasks in conjunction and under the auspices of these organizations, such as definition of methodology, architecture and specific services. The HSSP additionally will facilitate between organizations to provide the tools, knowledge, methodologies, or viewpoints deemed necessary for them to fulfill their purpose. The responsibilities of the main HSSP will be to manage the subgroups and verify their charters, as well as provide cohesive vision and any appropriate administrative tasks.
HSSP specification work is divided into two foundational components: functional specifications (manifested as Service Functional Models) and technical specifications (resulting in technology adoptions). The functional specification work is being originated within health industry standards communities, such as HL7 and CEN. The functional models enumerate what capabilities are to be supported but not how they are supported. The technical specification work details exactly how those functions are manifested and ultimately realized in a technology platform.
The intention behind splitting the standard into two work products is to facilitate and improve involvement from different communities, leveraging each to their strengths. To date, HL7 has been leading in identifying standardization priorities, elaborating the functions desired into Service Functional Models, and in defining conformance criteria that would be used to assess compliance. The OMG has been leading the technical specification process as part of their Technology Adoption Process.
The OMG process requires participants to make commitments to implement standards as working software, ensuring that the technical specifications are used and available. During implementation of these technical specifications, errors and shortcomings of adopted Service Functional Models are captured, logged, and ultimately incorporated into subsequent versions of the Service Functional Models as part of a continuous process improvement approach.
Prior to establishing HSSP as a moniker, the activity began informally as an informal group to discuss issues pertaining to SOA and interoperability in a health context. Meeting concurrently with regularly scheduled HL7 Working Group meetings, HSSP operated in this form for several years until June 2005. In June a meeting was hosted in Salt Lake City by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration to establish a formal direction for the group and to initiate steps to formalize its activities.
In January 2006, Health Level Seven accepted the charter of the Service-oriented Architecture Special Interest Group (SOA SIG), which was to become the hosting body for HSSP within the HL7 organization. The OMG Healthcare Domain Task Force had already agreed to sponsor the activity. The HSSP project was formally chartered in January, 2006, operating under a board-level agreement forged between Health Level Seven and the Object Management Group.
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