ABC's of CDA or CDA 101 Details

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Course Title The ABCs of CDA
Instructor Lisa R. Nelson, MBA, MSc, Certified HL7® CDA Specialist
Course Level Introductory
Delivery Time 4 hours
Course Description This course provides an overview of the HL7 CDA R2 standard, its use and function. Discover why this emerging standard is an important component of the developing health information ecosystem.
Intended Audience Non-technical Organization Leaders, Project Managers, Subject Matter Experts, System Implementers, or Technology Adopters involved in projects that currently use CDA R2 or are considering the use of CDA in the future.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand why the CDA stand is needed and what value it brings
  • Clarify the relationship between CDA, HL7 v3, and HL7 v2.x
  • Become familiar with the different uses of CDA
  • Gain basic knowledge of CDA terms and concepts
  • See a sample CDA and learn how one is constructed and consumed by a system

Content Outline

I. Reasons why the CDA standard is needed and ways it adds value (15 mins)

II. Relationship between CDA, HL7 v3.0 and HL7 v2.x (15 mins)

III. Ways that CDA is being used today (45 mins)

a. Overview of HL7 Implementation Guides

b. Overview of IHE Content Profiles

c. Overview of the role of CDA in Meaningful Use

IV. Discussion (20 mins)

V. Break (20 mins)

VI. CDA game or demonstration depending on venue (30 mins)

VII. The six principles of CDA R2 (20 mins)

VIII. The structure of a CDA document (terms and definitions)(20 mins)

a. OIDs

b. Header

c. Structured Body

d. Section

e. Entry

f. Uber-sections and Entry-parts

g. Value Sets

h. Templates

IX. Examination of a CDA sample document (20 mins)

X. Discussion (20 mins)

Review Questions

1. The creation and use of standard CDA documents eliminates the need for HL7 messages?

a. True

b. False

2. The human readable narrative text of a section in a CDA document and the associated clinical data in the machine readable entries represent the same information?

a. True

b. False

3. Which of the following is not a structural component of a CDA document?

a. Section

b. Entry

c. Entry Relationship

d. Value set

e. Participation

References and Resources

Standards Health Level 7. (2005). HL7 Clinical Document Architecture Release 2.0. HL7 Standards. Access to HL7 Standards requires membership in HL7. Some standards can be purchased individually by non-members. Implementation Guides and Profiles HL7 Consolidated CDA Implementation Guide IHE Technical Framework HL7 Quality Research Document Architecture Books Benson, T. (2010). Principles of Health Interoperability HL7 and SNOMED. Springer: UK.

Boone, K. W. (2011). The CDA Book. Springer: UK.


Dolin, R., Alschuler, L., Boyer, S. Beebe, C., Behlen, F. M., Biron, P. V., and Shabo, A. (2006). HL7 Clinical Document Architecture, Release 2. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. V.13(1); Jan-Feb 2006

Executive Office of the President, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). (2010). Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology To Improve Healthcare For Americans: the Path Forward. Retrieved from

Garde, S., Knaup, P., Hovenga, E. J. S., Heard, S. (2007). Towards Semantic Interoperability for Electronic Health Records: Domain Knowledge Governance for openEHR Archetypes. Methods of Information in Medicine 46(3): 332-343.

About the Instructor

Lisa Nelson is a health information technology (HIT) professional with over 20 years of experience which includes product development and management roles in two Inc 500 Fastest Growing Firms: one in Cardiology HIT and the other in electronic document publishing. She has a strong background in the development and use of HIT standards that support system integration and data interoperability. She is an HL7 Certified CDA Specialist, and has trained at the Lantana Group’s CDA Academy. She has a detailed understanding of the terminology asset management processes required to leverage the use of SNOMED CT, LOINC and other terminologies supporting Meaningful Use. Some of her CDA experience includes:

  • CDA IHE Profile development for the IHE’s Patient Care Coordination, and Quality, Research and Public Health domains
  • CDA validation test development and verification for the IHE Connectathon
  • CDA HL7 Implementation Guide development for Consolidated CDA and Quality Reporting Document Architecture
  • CDA creation for Public Health case reporting
  • CDA use with Personal Health Records for consumers
  • CDA use for survey instruments used in diagnosing autism
  • CDA use for Vital Records reporting for birth certificate creation
  • CDA use in Quality Measure reporting for newborn hearing screening
  • CDA use in diabetes management for a Beacon Community HIE

Nelson holds a Master of Science in Medical Informatics from Northwestern University, a Master of Business Administration valedictorian with a concentration in information systems from Regis University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science summa cum laude from University of Massachusetts. She is a Toastmasters International Certified Competent Toastmaster.