HL7 in Europe: Netherlands
Year of establishment
Number of members
191, from which 92 are healthcare providers, the rest are IT-vendors and government agencies
Current chair is Rob Mulders. Rob's working life has been all around managing data. He started as software developer at the Dutch Central Bank and worked his way into healthcare data via his own company Furore, which grew to 90 professionals and was sold to the company Conclusion in 2017. After Furore, he and his companion Rien Wertheim founded Firely. Firely believes that the emerging standard HL7 FHIR will empower a new era in the way healthcare uses data. A shift from copyshop towards modern realtime data exchange will take place in the near future. At Firely, Rob advises hospitals, patient federations and IT-vendors in the subject of digital transformation. Because of his role at Firely, Rob was asked to join the board of HL7 Netherlands in 2014. He became chair in 2018. In his role at HL7 Netherlands, Rob is often asked by the Dutch Ministry of Health to advise in policy making and technology issues.
Technical Lead and working groups
Technical Leadership is provided by the HL7 NL Core Team, consisting of Roel Barelds (chair and representative to the board), Frank Ploeg (chair of the Active Member Forum) and Yvonne Pijnacker Hordijk (responsible for organizing the NL WGM). We have standing maintenance groups for v2, v3/CDA, and FHIR. FHIR maintenance is carried out in close collaboration with the FHIR-NL Board and Validation Team that guide the registration and validation of generic FHIR profiles for NL. All other activities are carried out within project teams, based on an agreed Project Scope Statements, and ad-hoc groups. Our HL7 Academy, organizing all our (nowadays virtual) v2, CDA and FHIR trainings, is led by Rene Spronk. Many of our experts join in international working groups as well.
Some highlights and major achievements - since establishment
Cooperation with government institutions
HL7 Netherlands is one of the earliest members of SDO NL, the cooperation between fifteen standard development organizations in The Netherlands. SDO NL has an experts community that advises the IT-government board of the Dutch Ministry of Health. Because of the FHIR API becoming popular, the HL7 delegation is involved in almost all current projects at the government. Furthermore, HL7 Netherlands is used as input source to the Informatieberaad, a policy making club from the healthcare field organized by the government. Last but not least, HL7 Netherlands has contacts with dozens of non-profit organizations in healthcare, like the patients federation, the doctors federation, the Dutch CMIO club, the BI-center of the payers, the producers of the medical thesaurus Dutch Hospital Data and the producers of the medication thesaurus Z-Index.
Our achievements go hand in hand with the progress of the international HL7 standards. HL7v2 is widely used by all hospitals and other healthcare providers. CDA and v3 are used by multiple large national projects, from which the Landelijk Schakel Punt (national registry for medical information) is the most famous one. FHIR has been selected by dozens of Dutch organizations and projects to be used as de facto API for all new developments, including MedMij, the Dutch national project for connecting personal health environments. HL7 Netherlands invites all bigger projects involving all HL7 standards to join the Dutch working group meeting, held twice a year.
This year, Robert Stegwee from HL7 Netherlands has done a great job in connecting all Dutch labs for the scale-up of doing COVID-19 tests, which helps significant in keeping the spreading figures low.
Plans for the future
We hoped to organize one of the 2022 international WGM's, but due to the current pandemic situation, that seems impossible. In November 2020, we will have our 14th NL working group meeting, now virtual, consisting of one tutorial day and two conference days. Furthermore, we expect the role of our FHIR-NL Board and Validation Team to grow significantly, since more and more organizations and projects embrace FHIR. In 2021, we will follow up on our 2020 advice to the Dutch Ministry of Health about how to migrate to FHIR in Dutch national projects. We will continuously serve our members with training, helpdesk and project support actively. Our budgets for joining international HL7 WGM's will be kept intact. We plan to attract new members in the target group of software development companies, who are interested in the FHIR API.