Health Level Seven Inc. is a health data standards organization founded in 1987. This organization has created a framework with related standards to share, integrate, and retrieve electronic health information. Today HL7 standards are the most widely used for health data exchange. In this concise HL7 interface guide, we will provide a brief introduction to HL7, showing you its benefits and what you need to implement it successfully.

What Is HL7?

HL7 is the healthcare data messaging standard that enables disparate healthcare systems and applications to exchange data consistently. HL7 standards improved communication and integration between healthcare devices and applications.

Presently, these message standards may be grouped into three main versions:

  • HL7 version 2
  • HL7 version 3
  • Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)

How Does HL7 Work?

This healthcare data transmission standard is defined in specification documents, accessible from the HL7 website.

Developers can create an HL7 interface to send and receive data about events, patients, and care processes. The data is transmitted in the form of HL7 messages.

Dozens of HL7 messages exist today. They help providers exchange valuable information such as patient records, lab data, and billing details that can improve the quality of patient care.

What Are the Benefits of HL7?

HL7 supports full data integration in the healthcare industry. In many organizations, the data needed for diagnosis, treatment, and healthcare administration resides in data silos.

For instance, large healthcare institutions use a variety of information systems, including:

  • Electronic medical records
  • Lab information systems
  • Radiology information systems
  • Picture archiving and communication systems

All these systems store and process information in different formats. However, for clinicians to deliver high-quality care, these systems need to “talk” to each other seamlessly.

That is why HL7 is so essential. Using HL7 standards to exchange data delivers the following benefits:

  • Efficient data processing: Faster collection, processing, and analysis of patient information.
  • Fast and accurate diagnosis: Doctors can act faster during emergencies because they can access the patient’s complete medical history.
  • Exchange data seamlessly with external sources: HL7 provides a bridge between internal health systems and external healthcare software. The HL7-FHIR standard, for example, allows data exchange using web-based APIs.
  • Improved patient care and satisfaction: Patients benefit from efficient data exchange through web-based and mobile access to their medical records. This enables them to participate more actively in the treatment and recovery process.

What Do You Need to Know Before Implementing HL7?

In addition to the brief introduction provided in this guide, you can implement HL7 by understanding the following:

  • Types and structure of HL7 messages
  • Building simple bi-directional interfaces
  • HL7 transport methods
  • HL7 version compatibility
  • How to use an HL7 integration engine

HL7 is an essential standard for the healthcare industry. However, it comes with its challenges. In practice, developers and vendors format their messages with variations.

That’s why you need the assistance of an HL7 interface expert to implement your data integration project successfully.

Move Beyond This Basic HL7 Interface Guide

Contact us at Lifepoint Informatics today at 877.522.8378, and let’s discuss your data integration needs. Visit our contact page now to book a free consultation or see a free demo of our interoperability solutions.