HL7: OID Considerations

In a typical HL7 messaging environment, to construct messages of any particular complexity you need to be able to assign Instance Identifiers to various entities in the system.

The method for creating “locally unique” ids commonly exists in most applications. For example, a Patient table might have a “patient id” column which provides an id that unique in the context of all patients in one particular database. This locally unique id can be specified as the “extension” for a particular II object.

So if the patient table looks like this:

-----------------------------
       Patient Table
-----------------------------
patient_id | name
-----------------------------
123        | Fred Flintstone
           |

The corresponding id in an HL7 message might look like this:

<id extension="123" root="..." />

What’s needed in an HL7 application is a mechanism that determines a value for “root” that ensures the complete id is universally unique.

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