Clinical Document Architecture (CDA)

The Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) is a markup standard developed by the organization Health Level 7 International (HL7) to define the structure of clinical documents such as discharge summaries and progress notes. These documents can include text, images and other types of multimedia.

The Clinical Document Architecture is based on XML, the Extensible Markup Language. Meanwhile, to represent health concepts, the CDA uses HL7’s Reference Information Model, which aims to put data in a clinical or administrative context and to express how pieces of data are connected, and coding systems such as Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine -- Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) and Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC).

By setting standards for information exchange, the Clinical Document Architecture is a step toward the goal of ensuring that patient records can be created and read by any electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) software system. The CDA standard does not identify a particular transport method; options include Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM), Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME), File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), as well as HL7 version 2 messages and HL7 version 3 messages.

Together with the Continuity of Care Record standard, the Clinical Document Architecture forms the basis for the Continuity of Care Document standard for patient document information exchange. Both the CCR and CCD standards meet the United States government’s guidelines for the meaningful use of EHR technology.

Learn more:

Differing laws, data standards complicate state HIE initiatives.

Green CDA standard tries to be simpler than the CDA.

How to create a clinical data warehouse.

This was last updated in May 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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