Question: how to represent mobile phone numbers in HL7


Is there a standard place for mobile phone numbers in HL7 V2? For patients is it PID.13?

The answer depends on the version. For the versions in use in Australia at this time (v2.3.1 -> v2.5) there are two PID fields:

PID-13 Phone Number – Home This field contains the patient’s personal phone numbers
PID-14 Phone Number – Business This field contains the patient’s business telephone numbers

The problem is that the definition doesn’t help – some people carry two mobile phones, but most people just carry one and use it for both personal and business use. But for whatever reason they have a phone, when recording a mobile phone number, you don’t ask people why they have their mobile phone.

So you can put a mobile phone in either, and it will look like this:


where CP = cellular phone, or mobile.

Note that in v2.6/2.7, there are two changes:

  • PID fields 13 and 14 are deprecated, and a new field is introduced that uses codes in the 2nd component for purpose instead
  • The first component – the full telephone number – is deprecated in favour of a structured set of fields for country, area code, local number, and extension. Although it’s not clear what the area code is for a mobile in Australia, the real problem with this is that it pre-supposes enforcing higher control of clerical data entry (to get the fields right) in order to allow … computer dialing? I don’t think this is worth it.


  1. Colin says:

    I hope that first field is the country code, not the country.
    I agree this won’t be nice for data entry: the formatting is country dependent.


  2. Lloyd McKenzie says:

    I suspect the use-case is the ability to perform limited validation as well as improved searching and rendering. (Harder to do the latter two functions if the whole number is captured as a string.) That said, I agree the benefit is limited and given that many systems won’t capture the parts discretely, deprecating the first component wasn’t a terrific idea.

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