Updated: This post lead to a number of requests for HL7 and Iguana Training. We’ve recently updated our website to offer online registration for both and more information can be found here: Iguana and HL7 Training
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the HL7 Educational Summit. The summit and the instructors were fantastic and it was great to spend time talking with the other participants. For those unfamiliar, the HL7 organization offers various forms of HL7 training and HL7 certification. During the educational summits, you can sign-up for 2 full days of classes followed by an optional certification exam. The classes are quite intense and it’s highly recommended that you read Chapters 2 and 2A of the standard before arriving. Unlike our training – which is geared towards real-world design and implementation – I think the educational summit classes are best suited for people who – like me – are interested in understanding the micro-details of the standard.
This year, I thought I’d brush up on my HL7 v2.6 knowledge, so I signed up for the classes and even elected to take the HL7v2.6 Control Specialist certification exam. Nothing like the fear of an exam to make sure you pay attention during class!
Along with the studies, there was also a lot of lively discussions about the current and future state of HL7, if-and-when HL7v3 will ever see large-scale adoption and the best practices for interface design. Frequently the conversations found their way to the economy with a lot of emphasis on the meaning and impact of the Era of ARRA. It’s really going to be interesting to see how far federal funding – and/or the threat of its removal – will push the industry as a whole.
While I do enjoy 10 hour days of HL7 training as much as the next guy, I also managed to find a few minutes of free time to step away from the HL7 world and explore the Boston/Cambridge area. Oddly – and I don’t know what this says about my interests – one of the more fascinating things I found when I stepped away from the summit was the existence of an interesting – though slightly less practical – standard: The Smoot.
So, what’s a Smoot?
The smoot is a nonstandard unit of length created as part of an MIT fraternity prank. It is named after Oliver R. Smoot, a fraternity pledge to Lambda Chi Alpha, who in October 1958 lay on the Harvard Bridge (between Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts), and was used by his fraternity brothers to measure the length of the bridge. –Wikipedia
Even more remarkable is that Mr. Smoot – clearly passionate about measurements and standardization – went on to become chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)!
Lastly – on the topic of sight-seeing – if you have a chance to visit the area, I also suggest making the trip to the MIT museum. It’s a lot of fun and you really can’t go wrong with “Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson” which includes great pieces like: Cory’s Yellow Chair, Margot’s Cat and Another Housefly.
All in all it was a great trip. If you weren’t able to attend, don’t want to read the entire standard or are simply looking for a little more practical experience with HL7 interfaces, have a look at the great training and mentoring packages we provide here at iNTERFACEWARE. Generally we cover off the HL7 basics before we move onto advanced uses of Chameleon/Iguana, so if you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge, learn the tricks of the trade or maybe become a Chameleon/Iguana superstar, there’s never been a better time to get started.
Oh, and for those who are curious: Yes, I did pass the HL7 v2.6 certification exam!