Section 1e: Version 3 (V3)
Section 2: Clinical and Administrative Domains

HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2011


The Health Level Seven Version 3 (V3) Normative Edition—a suite of specifications based on HL7’s Reference Information Model (RIM)—provides a single source that allows implementers of V3 specifications to work with the full set of messages, data types, and terminologies needed to build a complete implementation. The 2010 Normative Edition represents the fifth publication of the complete suite of V3 specifications. Each of these specifications has been balloted to formal approval as either a Normative Standard or a Draft Standard for Trial Use. It includes standards for communications that document and manage the care and treatment of patients in a wide variety of healthcare settings. As such, it is a foundational part of the technologies needed to meet the global challenge of integrating healthcare information, in areas such as patient care and public health.


The Version 3 Normative Edition represents a new approach to clinical information exchange based on a model driven methodology that produces messages and electronic documents expressed in XML syntax. The V3 specification is built around subject domains that provide storyboard descriptions, trigger events, interaction designs, domain object models derived from the RIM, hierarchical message descriptors (HMDs) and a prose description of each element. Implementation of these domains further depends upon a non-normative V3 Guide and normative specifications for: data types; the XML technical specifications (ITS) or message wire format; message and control “wrappers;” and transport protocols.


  • All US and International Healthcare Industry Organizations and Companies


  • Focuses on semantic interoperability by specifying that information be presented in a complete clinical context that assures that the sending and receiving systems share the meaning (semantics) of the information being exchanged
  • Designed for universal application so that the standards can have the broadest possible global impact and yet be adapted to meet local and regional requirements
  • Provides consistent representation of data laterally across the various HL7 domains of interest and longitudinally over time as new requirements arise and new fields of clinical endeavor are addressed
  • Allows implementers to take advantage, at any point in time, of the latest and most effective implementation technologies available
  • Assures consistent development and the ability to store and manipulate the specifications in robust data repositories rather than as word-processing documents


  • NHS (UK National Health Service) uses specifications based on the HL7 V3 Reference Information Model, data types and methodology in nearly 2 million V3 transactions per day,
  • United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, Germany and Croatia


Version 3 represents a significant departure from "business as usual" for HL7. Offering a lot of optionality and thus flexibility, the V2.x series of messages are widely implemented and very successful. These messages evolved over several years using a "bottom-up" approach that has addressed individual needs through an implied methodology that, in lieu of a pre-defined implementation guide, typically depends on bi-lateral negotiations between participating HIT system implementations. There is neither a consistent view of the data that HL7 moves nor the data's relationship to other data. HL7's V2 success is also largely attributable to its flexibility. It contains many optional data elements and data segments, making it adaptable to almost any site. While providing great flexibility, its optionality also contributes to an inability to support reliable conformance testing and also requires implementers to spend more time analyzing and planning their interfaces to ensure that both parties are using the same optional features.


HL7's primary goal for Version 3 is to offer a standard that is definite and testable, and provide the ability to certify vendors' conformance.


HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2011

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HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2005 (View Brief)

(Download) (165.96 MB)

HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2006 (View Brief)

(Download) (261.70 MB)

HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2008 (View Brief)

(Download) (468.16 MB)

HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2009 (View Brief)

(Download) (447.16 MB)

HL7 Version 3 Normative Edition, 2010 (View Brief)

(Download) (547.50 MB)


See following page for more information:


  • Normative



Administrative Steering Division


  • V3


  • Retired


  • Universal