I found Markus Bolton's article, calling for the NHS to adopt the HL7 international standard for exchanging information between systems, most refreshing ('Down to the wire', 31 August, pages 18-19). I agree completely with his line of thinking.

The major reason the NHS has so many problems interfacing and integrating systems is the absence of an overriding de facto standard that suppliers and the service adhere to.

Contrast this with the US, Canada and Australia where HL7 is the standard supported by virtually all major suppliers. If a supplier does not support HL7 within a product, it knows it will be difficult or impossible to sell because it won't talk to other systems.

If we can get this standard more widely accepted and implemented in the UK, we will have made a major step forward in implementing the electronic patient record in acute hospitals.

Peter Thomas London