Approaching semantic interoperability in Health Level Seven

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Jan-Feb 2011;18(1):99-103. doi: 10.1136/jamia.2010.007864. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


'Semantic Interoperability' is a driving objective behind many of Health Level Seven's standards. The objective in this paper is to take a step back, and consider what semantic interoperability means, assess whether or not it has been achieved, and, if not, determine what concrete next steps can be taken to get closer. A framework for measuring semantic interoperability is proposed, using a technique called the 'Single Logical Information Model' framework, which relies on an operational definition of semantic interoperability and an understanding that interoperability improves incrementally. Whether semantic interoperability tomorrow will enable one computer to talk to another, much as one person can talk to another person, is a matter for speculation. It is assumed, however, that what gets measured gets improved, and in that spirit this framework is offered as a means to improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Information Systems / standards*
  • International Cooperation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Reference Standards
  • Semantics*
  • Systems Integration*
  • Vocabulary, Controlled*