Interoperability is still a significant challenge for most healthcare providers. And it is almost impossible to achieve full interoperability in your organization without understanding how HL7 interface works. HL7 has been one of the most valuable tools for improving interoperability. In a recent survey, 67 percent of respondents said they use HL7 in their organization. However, it is still poorly understood by many. That’s why we have put together this concise guide on HL7 interfaces. Read on to discover what an HL7 is, why it is essential and how it works.

What Is an HL7 interface?

HL7 is a set of clinical messaging standards for exchanging and retrieving information from various healthcare systems and applications.

A typical HL7 interface consist of three main parts:

  • An endpoint linked to a sending application
  • An endpoint connected to a receiving application
  • A protocol for transferring data between the two endpoints. The most commonly used transport protocol is TCP/IP.

Benefits of an HL7 Interface

Many clinicians, especially specialists, need access to various electronic systems to see a patient’s entire medical history. They a complete view of the patient’s health records and past diagnoses to make critical decisions about the patient’s health.

However, in most healthcare organizations, patient data is generated and stored in different health IT systems such as:

  • Health Information Systems (HIS)
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR)
  • Radiology Information System (RIS)
  • Laboratory Information System (LIS)
  • Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)

Unfortunately, these systems collect and store information in diverse data formats. Different vendors also develop them, and this makes communication between them difficult.

Before HL7 gained wide acceptance, providers had to develop different custom applications to exchange data between them.

Having access to patients’ health records can be pretty challenging when their specialist works in an outpatient clinic that is not connected to the primary caregiver’s system.

To solve this problem, EHR vendors and health IT experts use HL7 or FHIR messaging standards to bridge this gap.

With the standard set of clinical events (like admission, testing, and diagnosis) and data classes (e.g., procedures, allergies, and diagnoses) provided in the HL7, you can exchange data between EHRs without the fear of misinterpretation.

A well-designed HL7 interface solves the problem of data integration and offers the following benefits:

  • Uniform collection and processing of information from a patient’s initial appointment to discharge.
  • Elimination of manual input of patient data in different departments
  • Providing clinicians with detailed information to enhance medical decisions
  • Enabling seamless and standardized information exchange
  • Improving the quality of patient care

How an HL7 Interface Works

To give you a clear picture of how an HL7 interface works, we will look at one of the common cases for using it within a medical institution – an LIS-EHR integration.

With an HL7 interface, you can automate the test ordering process. Instead of creating a manual or paper-based order, you simply activate your interface from inside the EHR.

You enter the test details into a form connected to your interface, and the interface transmits the information to the laboratory information system (LIS). After the test order is completed, the lab technician can send the results back to the hospital’s EHR through another HL7 interface.

That’s just a peep into the power of an HL7 interface. If you want to develop or deploy this powerful interoperability tool, you will need the help of an expert. In fact, in a recent study, 57 percent of participants said they would consult an expert to assist them with the deployment of HL7 technology.

Contact Us for a Demo

Call us at 877.522.8378 to see how an HL7 interface works in real-time. You can also reach us through our contact page to request a free consultation.