HL7 to license standards for free in 2013
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Health Level Seven International (HL7), which develops interoperability standards for health IT, will make much of its intellectual property, including standards, freely available under licensing terms.

The organization's decision "represents HL7’s commitment to the betterment of healthcare worldwide by ensuring that all stakeholders have equal access to its HIT standards," according to a release. The new policy is expected to take effect in the first quarter of 2013.

"This announcement is the most significant standards development in the past decade," said John Halamka, MD, CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “It ensures that every stakeholder will have ready access to the content standards they need for Meaningful Use.”

The volunteer-created standards and other select pieces of intellectual property will be made available to the international healthcare community after a period of analysis and planning by HL7, expected to take several months.

In the interim, the traditional membership model, which includes access to and the right to use HL7 standards, will continue to be in effect. Following completion of the analysis, HL7 expects to transition to a model in which use of HL7 standards and select intellectual property is independent of HL7 membership.

More information on HL7 standards is available at the organization's website.