HL7 Version 3 Resources

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HL7 V3 Resources

What is HL7 Version 3?

HL7 Version 3 is used by healthcare computers to talk to other computers.  The name HL7 comes from 'Healthcare' and the top level (Level 7) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, which carries the meaning of information exchanged between computer applications.  HL7 Version 3 is mainly used in large interoperability projects, such as the NHS Connecting for Health programme in the UK, Health InfoWay in Canada, etc.  HL7 V3 has significant differences from HL7 Version 2, which is mainly used within individual hospitals.

The Health Level 7 Standards are the globally most widely implemented healthcare systems interoperability standards.  From the first V2.1 systems implementations in 1990, the HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) to the most recent HL7 FHIR courses, HL7 V2.x is the basis of eHealth interoperability world-wide.  There are plenty of HL7 tools and resources, intensive HL7 training and certification courses, a global workforce of HL7 Implementers and HL7 Experts as well as an extensive HL7 Job market.

HL7 V3 Introduction & Information

What is HL7?  A simple introduction to the Health Level 7 eHealth Standards

What is Health Level 7?  A comprehensive HL7 Overview (WikiPedia)

What is HL7 International?  The official site of the HL7 organisation

HL7 Books & eHealth Books we Recommend:

Download the HL7 Standards - CDA, V2.x, V3, Arden Syntax & EHR Functional Model


NEW: Meaningful Use and Beyond: A Guide for IT Staff in Health Care - Are you ready to take your IT skills to the healthcare industry?  This concise book explains how the US healthcare system is implementing Electronic Health Records ("EHRs") and other IT systems to comply with the US government’s Meaningful Use requirements.  A tremendous opportunity for tens of thousands of IT professionals, the Meaningful Use program requires a complete makeover of archaic paper records systems, cumbersome workflows and other outdated practices.  This book describes in detail how hospitals and doctors’ offices differ from other organizations that use IT and explains how to bridge the gap between clinicians and IT staff.

Electronic Health Records For Dummies - a helpful, plain-English guide for doctors, nurses and healthcare administrators to understand, implement and use an Electronic Health Record system.

Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Management - the Best Selling textbook in the field.  Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD, CCHIT Chairman said "With health care information technology now in the national policy spotlight, this book should be required reading for every health care administrator and student.


The HL7 CDA Book - by eminent expert Keith Boone provides clear and easy-to-use CDA implementation guidance with numerous examples.  The reader will learn not only how to implement the CDA standard, but also to understand its idioms and to "speak" the CDA language.

Introduction to HL7 V2.x Messaging (2nd Edition) - the most popular HL7 V2.x Messaging introductory Textbook.  Mike Henderson is widely recognized as a most experienced HL7 V2.x teacher and trainer.  He regularly teaches at the HL7 Education Summits in the US and co-authors the HL7 V2.x Analyst Certification exams.

HL7 V2.x Messaging Study Guide - the Study Guide to the above Textbook.  Both books are considered mandatory reading and study for candidates sitting the HL7 International V2.x Analyst Certification exam.

Verification Results for IT Standards: HL7 - a text focussing on the formal verification of standards in healthcare.

Download standards 

Principles of Health Interoperability HL7 and SNOMED - Healthcare depends on the two leading standards HL7 and SNOMED CT for functional and semantic interoperability.  Tim is one of the most experienced teachers of both HL7 V3 and SNOMED CT.

International Standards Online: ISO, ANSI, IEC, IEEE, CSA, BSI, DIN, etc. - easily and instantly download these popular eHealth Standards!

Managing Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Executives - the title says it all!

E-Health Care Information Systems: An Introduction for Students and Professionals - excellent

Browse more HL7 Books and Manuals HL7to learn the Secrets of Health Level 7.

Please Click 'Like' and 'Follow' to Stay-in-Touch with the latest HL7 Developments:

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Why is HL7 needed?

A specialised healthcare language is required to avoid the sort of ambiguity that is common in everyday medical English.  Computers cannot easily deal with synonyms (saying the same thing using different words) or homonyms (where the same term or phrase means different things depending on context).  Furthermore, healthcare data is uniquely complex in scope and structural complexity.  Joined-up healthcare is difficult when patients have multiple problems and are being treated by several specialists in different locations.

HL7 and XML

HL7 messages are XML documents, which look somewhat similar to HTML.  Each message is a string of text with information enclosed by tags, wrapped in angle brackets.  Start tags look like <tag> and end tags look like </tag>.  Tags can be qualified by attributes such as <tag attribute="value">.

The HL7 tags and attributes are derived from the HL7 Reference Information Model (RIM) and the HL7 Data Types.  The structure of each HL7 message is set out in an XML schema, which specifies the tags and attributes needed or allowed in the message, their order and the number of times each may occur, together with annotations describing how each tag shall be used.

The HL7 RIM Reference Information Model

HL7 is a language, and every language has a grammar.  The HL7 RIM (Reference Information Model) specifies the grammar of HL7 messages and, specifically, the basic building blocks of the language and their permitted relationships.  The RIM is not a model of healthcare, although it is healthcare specific, nor is it a model of any message, although it is used in messages.  At first sight the RIM is quite simple.  The RIM backbone has just five core classes and a number of permitted relationships between them.

In HL7 V3, every happening is an Act, which is analogous to a verb in English.  Each Act may have any number of Participations, in Roles, played by Entities.  These are analogous to nouns.  Each Act may also be related to other Acts, via Act-Relationships.

Act, Role and Entity classes also have a number of specialisations.  For example, Entity has a specialisation called Living Subject, which itself has a specialisation called Person. Person inherits the attributes of both Entity and Living Subject.

RMIM Refined Message Information Model

HL7 has developed a notation, called Refined Message Information Model (RMIM), which displays the structure of a message as a colour-coded diagram.  Most RMIMs can be shown on a single sheet of paper or PowerPoint slide and these RMIM diagrams are used to design messages and to explain what each HL7 message consists of.

Structural Attributes

Structural attributes are used to specify more precisely what each RIM class means when used in a message.  For example, Act has a class code and a mood code.  The class code states what sort of Act this is, such as an observation, an encounter, or the administration of a drug.  Mood is analogous to the tense of a verb.  Mood code indicates whether an Act has happened (an event), or is a request for something to happen, or a goal or even a criterion.  For example, "weight = 100kg" is an observation event; "measure weight daily" is a request; "reduce weight to 80Kg" is a goal and "if weight is greater than 80Kg" is a criterion.

Attributes and Data Types

The RIM defines a set pre-defined Attributes for each class and these are the only ones allowed in HL7 messages.  Each attribute has a specified Data Type.  These Attributes and Data Types become tags in HL7 XML messages.


Message specifications, to do a particular task, use a sub-set of the available RIM Attributes, listing each element used and how many repeats are allowed.  This is known as refinement.  Each Data Type is constrained to the simplest structure that meets the requirements of the task.

Identifiers and Codes

One common data type is the Instance Identifier, which is used to give unique identity to people, persons, organisations, things and information objects.  HL7 uses two main types of code.  The first type covers the specialised codes used for structural attributes and are defined by HL7 itself.  The second type covers externally defined terms and codes such as SNOMED CT (Clinical Terms).

Scope and Extensibility

HL7 covers the whole scope of healthcare communications in an unambiguous way, using a relatively small set of constructs, which need to be learnt.  Healthcare communications are complex and any language needs to accommodate this complexity and also handle future needs.

(Text: Tim Benson, HL7 UK)

HL7 V3 Education

What is HL7?

There are regular HL7 eLearning courses for people wanting to study HL7 V3 and CDA by distance education.  Where possible, the Australian students are tutored by local experts.  These organisations also provide comprehensive HL7 education, including HL7 CDA Courses.

Didn't find what you were looking for?  Try the HL7 Search Engine:

HL7 Technical Newsletter

Keep up-to-date with the "HL7 TechNews" Technical Newsletter on Health Level 7 technical and tooling developments!  It will give you regular updates on all technical HL7 matters around the globe, in particular new standards developments and tooling releases:

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HL7 V3 Resources
    Recently added:
  Next HL7 V3 Ballot announced  (HL7.org - global)
RSS Feed for new HL7 Tools and Resources
  HL7 V3 Tools Installation Guide  (User name: wiki password: wikiwiki)

HL7 V3 RoseTree
  Microsoft Visio Viewer (Free Download)
  HL7 Textbooks

L7 Tools and Utilities

HL7 V3 Ballot "September 2007" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "September 2006" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "May 2006" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "September 2005" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "May 2005" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "January 2005" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "August 2004" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 Ballot "March 2004" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 6th Ballot "December 2003" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 5th Ballot "July 2003" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 4th Ballot "March 2003" Free Download)
HL7 V3 3rd Ballot "March 2002" (Free Download)

HL7 V3 2nd Ballot (Free Download)

HL7 V3 1st Ballot "August 2001" (Free Download)
The HL7 Reference Information Model - The "RIM" (Free Download)
The XML Schemas from the latest Ballot
The V3 Archive

 HL7 V3 Tools Release Index

NOTICE: All of the tools available thru this page are designed to support the development and publication of HL7 Version 3 Messaging standards.  These tools carry a license that restricts their use to activities that support the development and implementation of standards by members of HL7 and of the HL7 International Affiliate organizations.

NOTICE: This release was assembled to reflect the tools that should be used for preparing Ballot 2007May.  The Tooling Committee will keep these tools stable throughout the period, and will release required updates only in the case that a serious bug affecting users content is found.




  Descriptionp; Description

HL7 Tooling documentation

HL7 Tools Overview





Detailed documentation of HL7-supported tools, including their architecture, functions, inter-relationships, strengths and weaknesses.  Prepared for Tooling Committee.

Formal Naming Documentation



Documentation of the HL7 V3 Formal Naming algorithms, and their implementation in Visual Basic for use the the RMIM Designer in Visio.


Version 3 Domain Documentation Tools

Pub DB Installer



Previous PubDb 205



Installs a Publication DB and necessary support files.  VB code in the Pub DB will invoke WYSIWYG editing of the XML markup using XML Spy Suite 4.4 or 5.0  Supports local publication of domain content. Requires CURRENT RoseTree. User Guide included.  Be sure to 'remove' or uninstall the previous version before installing this one.

The previous pubDb release is provided to facilitate migrating data older than PubDb release 201.

PubDB Manager



The Pub DB Manager is a widget created to facilitate the alignment of artifact status and topic content across PubDbs and Design repositories, and the merger of PubDbs, both across domains and within a domain.  Its primary focus is for internal use in publishing HL7 ballots.

Stand-alone Description Editor



The Description Editor is a component of the Pub Db that can be installed separately to support editing of descriptive text for HL7 ballots.  Do not install this if RoseTree and/or the PubDb are already on your system.  It is installed as part of those packages and a separate installation will cause conflicts. User Guide included.

V3 Ballot Reconciliation Database

PubTools BallotDB



This Access database holds consolidated data from V3 Ballot Reconciliation Spreadsheets.  The data span ballot cycles '2005jan' through '2006may' and include all reconciliation sheets uploaded through 5/15/2006.

The DB includes software for batch import of data from new spreadsheets, and limited documentation on the use of this.


Version 3 Static Model Design & Documentation Tools


RMIM Designer  Latest release

RMIM Designer Visio




cmetInfo - latest



Formal Naming-last




















4 kB






Link is Windows Installer (Win2k, XP, ME).

Contents: This is an intelligent installer for the HL7 R-MIM design templates for interactive design with Visio 2000 or 2002. These tools do not work with Visio 2003 (See advisory).

This tool requires a Design/RIM Repository (below) and the installation of RoseTree (below) to function.  The installer includes instructions for installation and use of these tools.  This is the latest "official" release.


May be updated based on data from Committees as CMETs change status.  CMETinfo.txt file is used by the RMIM design tools (in Visio) to specify the CMETs that may be included in a design.  This file should be downloaded and placed in your Visio "Solutions\HL7" directory if it is more recently released than the Visio RMIM Designer tools


Formal naming in the RMIM designer can be updated independently from the Formal Naming Source file. Installation instructions are on a ReadMe in the archive.

RIM (latest)
Vocab (latest)

Naming (latest)






This release of 1/14/2007 does not contain all vocabulary changes approved at Harmonization in November 2006.  To meet the needs of TCs that require this daya, there will be a later repository release when these changes are available.

 The most recent HL7 Model Repository for capturing message designs.  Includes the most recent RIM and Vocabulary.  This is updated as additional columns and tables are added to the repository.


Note: Use of this design repository with the RMIM Designer (in Visio) or with other RoseTree-supported applications requires RoseTree Version 3.0.0 or later.


The archive also holds the latest formal naming source file for the RMIM Designer in Visio.  This source file can also be downloaded separately.



(downloads "msi" file needs Win Installer)



Contents: This is the most current release of RoseTree, which builds R-MIMs and HMDs for the Version 3 demonstration. This will INSTALL RoseTree.exe on your system, works with the published, R-MIM-enabled repository. It will also install Microsoft's MSXML4 (if this is not already on your machine) to perform XML extracts from Repository. Be sure to 'remove' or uninstall the previous version before installing this one.

Version 3 XML, MIF & Schema Tools

HL7 MIF Schemas

MIF Schemas



The HL7 Model Interchange Format (MIF) defines a series of schemas for XML files that will hold the content of HL7 Version 3 specifications.  These files will be the foundation for HL7 Version 3 Tooling in the future when all HL7 supported tools will use MIF-based files as their source of data and will emit MIF-based files as their output.  (See tools documentation.)

V3 Generator




A subset or replacement of the Generator will be release near the end of January 2007 to support "desktop" publishing of Static Model TableViews.

HL7 3 Generator (requires Java Runtime 1.4.2) is a successor to the Schema Generator. It takes XML representations of RIM, Vocabulary, HMDs, etc. and "generates" MIF files, Schemas, Table Views and Excel views. Use of this Generator requires source files distributed separately (see following entry).  Extract the files from the ZIP file, preserving the directories. Instructions are in the "HL7 Version 3.htm" file which is installed in "documentation" directory.

Generator Source Files (see release notes)







Additional source files (Domain HMDs and domain dynamic models) for use with the Generator software.

 Source files are posted from a particular ballot cycle.  See the release notes on the Gforge downloads to determine which ballot was used for a particular release..


HL7 V3 Education

The HL7 V3 Compendium (G. Shadow, Regenstrief)

HL7 Books and Studyguides

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See also: 

HL7 Australia V2.x Resources Page            HL7 Tools Page


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