HL7 messaging is a familiar term and concept only to the people who follow the medical field technology very thoroughly. It is an important conception that must be known to all the software developers who usually work on the health care software platforms like the EMR and EHRs.
HL7 – The Term
HL7 is the abbreviation of Health Level 7. In this expansion of the term, health refers to the health industry and level 7 refers to the application level of the OSI internet model. HL7 is a standard defined for application level services being provided in the health care software.
HL7 Messaging In Simple Notation
HL7 defines a standard for the databases to communicate in all the health related software. This standard was defined to solve a simple problem in the health software that existed since long.
Back in the 1980s when the computerization of health industry we taken up, only a digital storage of data was done. There was no specific communication between the databases at various places.
Even today with the advent of newer technology into the field, it is a problem if different technologies are used for different phases in the health industry.
The software being used in the labs can be different from the one being used in the clinic which can also be different from the one used in pharmacy. This leads to a problem of integration between all these systems.
To overcome this problem, an international organization was formed and the health software standards were defined. HL7 messaging is one such standard for database communication between different systems in the health industry.
HL7 Messaging – The Technology
HL7 messaging works through a HL7 interface. A code or a language was developed to help in designing the health information systems.
HL7 creates an interface between various health information systems and provide them with the facility to integrate, exchange and retrieve health records. The HL7 code embedded in all the systems creates a channel of communication.
The important aspect to consider here is that, HL7 messaging provides such a framework, which can become a part of the legacy systems too. It can help even the age old system at one place to communicate with the new age technology like smart phones and tablets.
More than 80% of the present day health information systems have an underlying HL7 messaging scheme embedded in their code. So, it also became easy and simple to integrate this technology to the newly developed health information systems.
Technology In Depth
HL7 messaging simply defines ADT (Abstract Data types) for communication. It takes into consideration all the possible data in all the systems and converts it into a format readable by any system. The general internet protocols like IP, HTTP, and VPN are commonly used.