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Introduction to CDA 2021.10.26

The Clinical Document Architecture (CDA®) is HL7's specification for standards-based exchange of clinical documents. CDA is based on the concept of scalable, incremental interoperability and uses eXtensible Markup Language (XML), the HL7 Reference Information Model (RIM) and controlled terminologies to enable the exchange of clinical documents with processable semantics.

This tutorial presents an overview of the CDA, outlining the business case for CDA, its primary design principles, capabilities and relationship to its growing family of implementation guides. The presentation will identify and discuss the capabilities and features of each of the three basic components of CDA: the document header, document body and clinical entries. It will also outline the current strategies employed to generate and validate both CDA documents and documents based on CDA implementation guides. The presentation will wrap up with an examination of how CDA has been deployed in a real-world setting.

Intended Audience

  • Managers considering CDA for local implementation
  • Product managers considering support for CDA
  • Technical staff of information exchange networks
  • Implementers beginning to work with CDA


Upon completion of this class, attendees will be able to:
  • Discuss the business case for CDA
  • Outline the primary design principles of CDA
  • Describe the technical specification
  • List the tools available for CDA creation, management and distribution


Calvin E. Beebe
Co-author CDA Standard 1.0 2.0 2.1, Past Chair HL7 Board of Directors, Past co-chair HL7 Structured Documents Work Group, Retired from Mayo Clinic IT