CEN and HL7 Patient Summary Standards

Patient Summaries everywhere

Most healthcare providers already have their own version of a patient summary for use in their own organisations.   Many countries have national equivalents, albeit some more extensive and/or more mature than others.  So why bother to standardize?  And why now? And why the need for an international solution? And, assuming there are affirmative answers to be had to all of the above, how can it be delivered?

Patient summaries (PS) are concrete manifestations of a clinician’s education and training. The purpose of a PS is to provide a concise account of a patient’s clinical history, either as an aide memoir for the author, to be used in a later consultation with their own patient, or to satisfy a request for information sharing, with subsequent review by another clinician who has to treat that same patient in a different context.

Either intention, makes the PS one of the earliest examples of data reuse; particularly if one considers the exchanged data to be an ‘extract’ or ‘view’, comprising usable and useful data from one or more pre-existing records.

Patient summaries are therefore ubiquitous. They are an important, integral, and even an inseparable part of the fabric of today’s healthcare. Given the significance and intertwined nature of the PS, any attempt to impose an international standard is likely to be both contentious and disruptive! So…

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