Every healthcare organization has different applications. Electronic health records (EHR), health information systems (HIS), lab information systems (LIS), and billing applications come from different vendors, coded in various languages. If there’s no common standard for exchanging data between these information systems, the data will remain in silos. That’s why clinical interface specialists and developers developed the HL7 standard in 1987 and the need for HL7 tutorials emerged.

This brief introduction to HL7 will look at the definition, purpose, usage, and learning path for this healthcare messaging standard.

1. What is HL7?

Generally speaking, HL7 is a set of healthcare messaging standards that allow clinical applications and information systems to exchange data and messages.

Without a messaging standard like HL7, information will never be sent freely from one clinical application to another without expensive custom programming. This could lead to problems like:

  • Users having to log into different systems
  • Inefficient workflows
  • Duplicate data entry
  • Multiple data processing errors
  • Inaccurate diagnosis
  • Poor quality of care

Fortunately, with HL7, healthcare organizations can now breathe a sigh of relief.

2. Why Was HL7 Developed?

To solve the problem of interoperability between healthcare systems, a global community of information scientists and healthcare informatics experts came together to develop the HL7 standard. America’s National Standards Institute has accredited this messaging standard.

After decades of diligent work, thousands of healthcare application developers now implement the HL7 standard in their products.

However, it is essential to note that HL7 does not enforce a standard on software vendors for hospitals, clinics, labs, and imaging centers. Instead, HL7 is a framework for negotiating where a particular messaging standard can facilitate communication between independent systems.

3. Who Needs HL7 Tutorials?

Today, more than 90 percent of healthcare software vendors and providers in the U.S. use HL7. HL7 organizations now exist in all six continents, which makes it a truly international standard.

The principal users of HL7 standards are clinical interface specialists. Consultants and in-house developers who create interfaces between information systems and applications use this standard to develop point-to-point interfaces. They also use it to build interface engines that allow users to develop interfaces quickly without extensive coding.

4. What Challenges Does HL7 Pose?

HL7 is a very flexible set of standards. It allows developers and vendors to use various versions and message specifications without severe restrictions. This, in turn, makes interfacing different systems quite tricky.

Apart from this, each new version of HL7 releases new features. One system can use elements from multiple versions, which further complicates the use of the standard.

To reduce the complexities involved in using HL7, many organizations and vendors have built interface engines. These interface engines help to route and translate information and messages between connected applications.

5. How Do You Get Started With HL7?

To learn more about HL7, you should get familiar with the necessary standards and commonly used messages. You can learn more by visiting the HL7 website or by partnering with an HL7 consultant.

Working with an HL7 expert like Lifepoint Informatics will enable you to discover practical applications of this standard.

Learn More About the Practical Uses of HL7 Tutorials

Lifepoint Informatics specializes in creating interfaces for healthcare information systems to communicate with each other effectively. To see a demo of HL7 interfaces in action, give us a call at 877.522.8378 or visit our contact page today.