HL7 Cross Paradigm Implementation Guide: Gender Harmony - Sex and Gender Representation, Edition 1
1.0.0 - release

HL7 Cross Paradigm Implementation Guide: Gender Harmony - Sex and Gender Representation, Edition 1, published by HL7 Terminology Infrastruture Work Group. This is not an authorized publication; it is the continuous build for version 1.0.0. This version is based on the current content of https://github.com/HL7/fhir-gender-harmony/ and changes regularly. See the Directory of published versions

V2 Gender Harmony

Introduction to V2

HL7’s Version 2.x (V2) messaging standard is the workhorse of electronic data exchange in the clinical domain and arguably the most widely implemented standard for healthcare in the world. This messaging standard allows the exchange of clinical data between systems. It is designed to support a central patient care system as well as a more distributed environment where data resides in departmental systems. While the breadth of scenarios covered by the V2 standard means that not all messages will require support for Gender Harmony concepts (e.g. master file management, workflows and result automation) it can be expected that many of the V2 data exchange scenarios will need to convey Gender Harmony data. Existing integrations (either with or without clearly documented implementation profiles) are not automatically impacted by updates to the underlying base standard. That is, new concepts or approaches documented in later standards are not expected to automatically be adopted by existing integrations.

Design considerations for V2

Just like FHIR, V2 supports two approaches to conveying gender harmony concepts and either one can be pre-adopted into existing interface specifications based upon an earlier V2 version through the use of profile components (an equivalent to FHIR extensions). They are introduced here in the order in which they were developed:

SOGI Observation-Based Data Exchange Profile

During the COVID-19 pandemic some jurisdictions required the inclusion of Sexual Orientation (which is not in the current scope of this IG) and Gender Identity, collectively often referred to as SOGI, in result messages sent to Public Health known as Electronic Lab Reporting (ELR). While this solution was confined to the mechanisms available in the base standard at the time (V2.9) and created for use in ELR, we want to make clear that use of ELR for SOGI data during the pandemic should not be construed as an endorsement of requiring labs and other ELR submitters to collect and transmit this data, but rather recognition of the fact that it may be necessary in the immediate short-term to make this data available to Public Health, given that SOGI data is typically not collected by laboratories nor is it critical to performing and interpreting lab tests. In the longer term this data should come from the Electronic Health Record system (EHR-s) – using the electronic case reporting standards that already include a profile (FHIR) and template (CDA) for Gender Identity which should be expanded to support other SOGI-related concepts, such as Sexual Orientation, and then used to convey this data to Public Health.

Because laboratories often don’t have direct interaction with the patient, the specimen is often collected off-site and transported to the lab, collection of information discussed in this Gender Harmony IG may need to be performed by providers and transmitted to the lab via the ordering process. Where electronic order exchange (e.g. LOI) is used, this will require updates to the order message to include this content. Implementers will need to consider the necessary data collection workflows and work with providers and other patient-facing groups to collect and share this data with the labs. In order to support the laboratory use case requirement for gender information, the SOGI Observation-Based Data Exchange Profile describes the use of a PATIENT_OBSERVATION_GROUP consisting of an Observation (OBX) segment, a Participation (PRT) segment (if part of the used version of the standard) and a Comment (NTE) segment inserted in the respective message structures and covers rules for exchange of Sexual Orientation, Gender Harmony and Pronouns.

Full Gender Harmony Concept Support

The updates in the underlying V2 base standard in V2.9.1 match the gender harmony approach as represented in FHIR. This has been accomplished by defining person specific constructs in three (3) new segments that can be added to any message structure, where appropriate, which allows support to convey the person specific characteristics of gender identity, pronouns and sexual orientation (like the SOGI Observation-Based Profile). In addition this supports Recorded Sex or Gender not just for the patient but for other persons like the next of kin or personnel and the concept of Sex Parameter for Clinical Use for the patient.

Regardless of the method ultimately selected, the exchange of the person-specific gender harmony concepts (e.g. pronouns, gender identity) uses the same vocabulary (LOINC) in either GSP-4 or in OBX-3 and similarly, the value sets used for the answers in the segment GSP-5 or in OBX-5 shall be the same as in FHIR and CDA.

Additional attributes to support gender harmony related data exchange use the same vocabulary across product families.

Outline of gender harmony artifacts in V2

The elements described in this profile match the FHIR extension paradigm as first published in the HL7 Standard: Version 2.9.1 - An application Protocol for Electronic Data Exchange in Healthcare Environments ballot (zip download) specifically in these sections:

  • Name to Use: Chapter 3, PID – Patient Identification Segment (3.4.2)
  • Gender Identity: Chapter 3, GSP – Person Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.19)
  • Pronouns: Chapter 3, GSP – Person Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.19)
  • Recorded Sex: Chapter 3, GSR – Recorded Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.20)
  • Sex for Clinical Use: Chapter 3, GSC – Sex For Clinical Use Segment (3.4.21)
  • Not part of Gender Harmony IG, but supported in V2: Sexual Orientation: Chapter 3, GSP – Person Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.19)

Using the gender harmony artifacts for specific use cases

In V2 the context of segments is often derived from the placement in the message structure – the following chapters in the HL7 Standard: Version 2.9.1 - An application Protocol for Electronic Data Exchange in Healthcare Environments address:

  • Summary of update in V2.9.1 in Chapter 1
  • Detailed description of the Gender Harmony related segments in Chapter 3:
    • For self-describing Gender Identity, Pronouns and Sexual Orientation: GSP – Person Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.19)
    • For Recorded Sex or Gender: GSR – Recorded Gender and Sex Segment (3.4.20)
    • For Sex for Clinical Use: GSC – Sex For Clinical Use Segment (3.4.21) The above-described gender harmony artifacts should be added into the message structures in V2.9.1 based on the use cases:
  • Use in Admission Transfer Discharge Use case in Chapter 3:
    • Trigger Events and Message Definitions (3.3)
  • Use in order messages in Chapter 4:
    • OMG – general clinical order message (event O19) (4.4.4)TBD
    • OML – laboratory order message (event O21) (4.4.6)
    • OML – Laboratory order for multiple orders related to a single specimen (event O33) (4.4.8)
    • OML – Laboratory order for multiple orders related to a single container of a specimen (event O35) (4.4.10)
    • OML – Specimen shipment centric laboratory order (event O39) (4.4.12)
    • OMI – Imaging Order Message (Event O23) (4.4.14)
    • OPL – Population/Location-Based Laboratory Order Message (Event O37) (4.4.16)
    • OMQ – General Order Message with Document Payload (Event O57) (4.4.20)
    • OML – Laboratory Result Interpretation Request Message (Event O59) (4.4.22)
    • OMD - Dietary Order (Event O03) (4.7.1)
    • OMB – Blood Product Order Message (Event O27) (4.13.2)
    • BPS – Blood Product Dispense Status Message (Event O29) (4.13.4)
    • BTS – Blood Product Transfusion/Disposition Message (Event O31) (4.13.6)
    • Use in order messages in Chapter 4A:
      • OMP - Pharmacy/Treatment Order Message (Event O09) (4A.3.3)
      • RDE - Pharmacy/Treatment Encoded Order Message (Event O11) (4A.3.6)
      • RDS - Pharmacy/Treatment Dispense Message (Event O13) (4A.3.8)
      • RGV - Pharmacy/Treatment Give Message (Event O15) (4A.3.11)
      • RAS - Pharmacy/Treatment Administration Message (Event O17)xe “RAS”xe “Message: RAS”xe “pharmacy/treatment”xe “pharmacy/treatment:administration message” (4A.3.14)
      • RDE - Pharmacy/Treatment Refill Authorization Request Message (Event O25) (4A.3.16)
      • RSP^K31^RSP_K31 message in Pharmacy Query/Response Message Pair (4A.3.23)
    • VXU - Unsolicited Vaccination Record Update (Event V04) (4A.7.6)
  • Use in result messages in Chapter 7:
    • ORU – Unsolicited Observation Message (Event R01) (7.3.1)TBD
    • ORU – Unsolicited Point-Of-Care Observation Message without Existing Order – Place an Order (Event R30) (7.3.4)
    • ORU – Unsolicited New Point-Of-Care Observation Message – Search for an Order (Event R31) (7.3.5)
    • ORU – Unsolicited Pre-Ordered Point-Of-Care Observation (Event R32) (7.3.6)
    • OUL – Unsolicited Specimen Oriented Observation Message (Event R22 ) (7.3.8)
    • OUL – Unsolicited Specimen Container Oriented Observation Message (Event R23) (7.3.9)
    • OUL – Unsolicited Order Oriented Observation Message (Event R24) (7.3.10)
    • OPU – Unsolicited Population/Location-Based Laboratory Observation Message (Event R25) (7.3.11)
    • ORU – Unsolicited Alert Observation Message (Event R40) (7.3.12)
    • ORU – Unsolicited Device Event Observation Message (Event R42) (7.3.14)
    • ORU – Unsolicited Patient-Device Association Observation Message (Event R43) (7.3.15)
    • CRM - Clinical Study Registration Message (Events C01-C08) (7.7.1)
    • CSU - Unsolicited Study Data Message (Events C09-C12) (7.7.2)
    • PEX - Product Experience Message (Events P07, P08) (7.11.1)
  • Use in Financial Management Messages in Chapter 6:
    • BAR/ACK – Add Patient Account (EVENT P01) (6.4.1)
    • DFT/ACK – Post Detail Financial Transactions (EVENT P03) (6.4.3)
    • BAR/ACK – Update Account (EVENT P05) (6.4.5)
    • DFT/ACK – Post Detail Financial Transactions - Expanded (EVENT P11)
  • Use in Master files in Chapter 8:
    • Staff/Practitioner Master Files (8.7)
  • Use in Medical Records in Chapter 9:
    • MDM/ACK - Original Document Notification (Event T01) (9.6.1)
    • MDM/ACK - Original Document Notification and Content (Event T02) (9.6.2)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Status Change Notification (Event T03) (9.6.3)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Status Change Notification and Content (Event T04) (9.6.4)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Addendum Notification (Event T05) (9.6.5)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Addendum Notification and Content (Event T06) (9.6.6)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Edit Notification (Event T07) (9.6.7)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Edit Notification and Content (Event T08) (9.6.8)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Replacement Notification (Event T09) (9.6.9)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Replacement Notification and Content (Event T10) (9.6.10)
    • MDM/ACK - Document Cancel Notification (Event T11) (9.6.11)
  • Use in Scheduling in Chapter 10:
    • Schedule Requests: Placer Application Requests and Trigger Events (10.3)
    • Schedule Notifications: Filler Application Messages and Trigger Events Unsolicited (10.4)
  • Use in Patient Referral in Chapter 11:
    • Patient Information Request Messages and Trigger Events (11.3)
    • Patient Treatment Authorization Requests (11.4)
    • Patient Referral Messages and Trigger Events (11.5)
    • Collaborative Care Messages and Trigger Events (11.6)
  • Use in Patient Care in Chapter 12:
    • Patient Goal Message (Events PC6, PC7, PC8) (12.3.1)
    • Patient Problem Message (Events PC1, PC2, PC3) (12.3.2)
    • Patient Pathway Message (Problem-Oriented) (Events PCB, PCC, PCD) (12.3.)
    • Patient Pathway Message (Goal-Oriented) (Events PCG, PCH, PCJ) ()
  • Use in Personnel Management in Chapter 15:
    • Add Personnel Record (Event B01) (15.3.1)
    • Update Personnel Record (Event B02) (15.3.2)
    • Query Information (Event Q25/K25) (15.3.7)
    • Example for Add Personnel Record - Event B01 (15.5.1)
  • Use in eClaims in chapter 16:
    • EHC^E01 – Submit HealthCare Services Invoice (event E01) (16.3.1)

Backwards compatibility of Gender Harmony artifacts

In order to use these new segments in earlier versions of HL7 (before V2.9.1) the data exchange partners have to agree to support this functionality by pre-adopting this profile component as part of their data exchange agreement and specifications.

GenderHarmony_Component – ID: 2.16.840.1.113883.9.282

This profile component can be used in ANY message structure in ANY version, when data about gender identity, pronouns, a recorded Sex or a recorded gender, or sexual orientation and similar concepts need to be exchanged. It also supports the exchange of any necessary Sex Parameter for Clinical Use (SPCU) for the patient.

Details for implementation

Indicating use of this profile

Populate one occurrence of MSH-21 as follows: ‘GenderHarmony^^2.16.840.1.113883.9.282^ISO’

Use of the Gender Harmony Specific Segments

Follow the segment definition, including the applicable vocabulary bindings, as described in V2.9.1.

Rules for Inserting the Gender Harmony Segments into Existing Message Structures

In V2 the event context determines the message structure, and the location in the order of segments in the message provides context. So how / where these new segments are used depends on the context. This section is focused only on those events where Gender Harmony concepts are of importance, for patient related events, but also when important for next of kin or staff master files.

The 3 Gender Harmony segments are related and will be inserted in patient specific messages as needed at the end of the patient identification (after the PD1 segment if it exists, otherwise after the PID segment), indicating that these concepts belong to the patient. All 3 segments must be optional and repeating. When placed in other message groups, for example following the Next of Kin (NK1) segment, the concepts are understood to relate to the person being described in the Next of Kin segment, though only the GSP and GSR segments are applicable in this context and should be added as optional and repeating.

Guidance on use of Gender Harmony artifacts in systems

Additional Considerations when exchanging Gender Harmony concepts

SOGI data is sensitive personal information with significant privacy and security considerations. Before exchanging SOGI data, trading partners should understand all the local regulatory and policy considerations surrounding patient consent and sharing SOGI data. Guidance in the area of when to exchange SOGI data and the necessary privacy, security and consent requirements around exchanging SOGI data is beyond the scope of this group and is left to the implementers who understand the local requirements.

Since V2 has been used for a long time, the field Administrative Sex (PID-8) V2 is different from the concepts described in the Gender Harmony IG. Definitions and how this element is used may vary by project, as the definitional text from V2.9 is somewhat at odds with the location in the administrative patient information segment:

Definition: This field contains the patient’s sex. Refer to User-defined Table 0001 - Administrative Sex in Chapter 2C, Code Tables, for suggested values. = https://terminology.hl7.org/CodeSystem-v2-0001.html

Due to the longstanding existence of this field, we have not changed the definition of this field, but rather ensure users understand that it should be used with care, while defining additional constructs to convey the more precisely defined attributes.

When conveying additional SOGI concepts in a message, implementers must consider how the business requirements of the receiving system will be satisfied when consuming SOGI data elements. Depending on the use case, a hierarchy of data elements may need to be constructed in order to ensure that business requirements are met appropriately. For example, in a billing use case, if both PID-8 and Gender Identity are populated in a message, the receiving system may choose to prioritize PID-8 over Gender Identity based on the needs of the use case.