In the framework of the first implementation phase of ELGA (Elektronische Gesundheitsakte), Austria's electronic health records project, a first set of clinical documents were selected to be implemented in the standard format 'Clinical Document Architecture' (CDA) of Health Level Seven International.
Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a non-profit organisation and the global authority on standards for interoperability of health information technology with members in over 55 countries. The Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) is a HL7 standard for the representation and machine processing of clinical documents in a way which makes the documents both human- and machine-readable and guarantees preservation of the content by using the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) standard.
CDA "provides an exchange model for clinical documents (such as discharge summaries and progress notes) - and brings the healthcare industry closer to the realisation of an electronic medical record," according to the standard's description on the HL7 website.
The first clinical documents that were selected for CDA implementation in Austria are the laboratory test results, medical imaging results and discharge summaries. The requirements for the creation of the respective CDA documents are contained in the 'ELGA CDA Implementation Guides' (in German).
The Implementation Guides were produced with the participation of working groups composed of representatives of Austrian doctors, nurses, hospitals, research organisations, software manufacturers for hospitals, institutions, etc, with the support of standards organisations.
In total, over 200 persons took part in the consensus-building process, which was completed successfully during October 2011. The Implementation Guidelines can be commented on until 31 December 2011 by sending an email to ELGA's contact email address.