04 December 2008
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Q. What is the clinical document architecture (CDA)?

A. The Health Level Seven (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) is a healthcare standard often used for referral and discharge letters. CDA is a document markup standard that specifies the structure and semantics of 'clinical documents' for the purpose of exchange. What this means is that the creators and recipients of a CDA document share an understanding of how the document is structured and what the information contained in the document means. At a basic level, this could relate to the patient's demographic details. At an advanced level, this could relate to diseases, medication, allergies and all the richness of coding and terminology systems. CDA documents are human readable. At the most basic level, the receiver of a document can display the content using a simple web browser. At the most complex level, an information system can take the structured data, for example drug allergies, and use this to drive a decision support system. CDA can be as simple or as complex as you wish. You can find more information on CDA on the HL7 website.

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