Health Level or HL7 messaging services are defined as a technology that has a set of standards, formats, and definitions used or applied for exchange or transfer of admin or clinical data between software apps. In healthcare industry, such services are used to send health care data in the form of messages. The data covers patient records, billing information, appointment schedules, etc.
These standards are produced by international standard organization to allow several healthcare companies to share clinical data. You may have read interesting articles about healthcare technology trends, EHRs, artificial intelligence in healthcare, IoT in healthcare, etc. In this post, experts from the industry will talk about HL7 standards, messages, advantages, and lot more stuff in detail.
HL7 services in healthcare
In the healthcare industry, several healthcare providers or systems apply HL7 messages, methods, and standard to interact with the teams. For better understanding, let’s get into depth-
There are some machines or gadgets that have complex design and don’t understand the language. For communication, staff require translator for it. HL7 messages solve this problem of the healthcare system. These messages are used to share electronic data within the network.
HL7 messages have one or multiple segments and every segment includes one of more composites, which are named as fields. Various message types are standardized because if receiver gets wrong trigger or message type, entire data will be misinterpreted or lost. Message types used in HL7 messages are shown in figure below-
HL7 Standards are used for sharing and retrieving healthcare data electronically. These standards support clinical practice, management, etc. For instance, data gathered from lab or physician or other sources can be unique, and HL7 standard ensures electronic message compatibility –
- A lab order sent from a physician’s office
- A lab order sent from a small specialty clinic
- A lab order sent from a Big hospital
In earlier days, electronic links between reference labs and clients were designed on an ad-hoc basis and used systematically. This method offered a workable solution at the largest labs for the most critical clients.
The above figure explains how point-to-point connections look in a lab environment.
The challenge with this method is the links are designed by LIS (Lab information system) vendors and are complex and high on maintenance. Moreover, time required for implementing functionality is out of the core competency of the LIS vendor.
How interface engine changed the environment of healthcare?
An interface engine develops a convenient messaging network by becoming the centralized, automated hub. It acts as a bridge for the network of clinical systems and clients. With the introduction of user-friendly and affordable interface engines, electronic efficiency is now available to reference labs of all sizes. It is now possible for most labs to deliver the electronic connectivity desired by their clients regardless of market niche or size.
What benefits does an engine offers?
Major advantages availed by healthcare facility when using a reliable interface engine to handle their HL7-enabled, client interfaces are as under-
- Lower LIS-vendor dependence
- No requirement of programmer for installing or maintaining
- Lower interface-development costs
- Engine offers better tools for designing and developing interfaces, which saves time.
- More control on data sharing
- Low interface maintenance requirements
- Enhanced reliability and accuracy
- User-friendly screens
- Labor saving
- Easy Testing tools and the ability to edit messages
What challenges are encountered by healthcare organizations and hospitals in healthcare industry when they try to use devices and systems to share data? There are total four common challenges to note –
Medical devices are lacking plug-and-play interoperability
A device having plug-and-play interoperability feature can make it possible to discover a hardware device in a system. The entire process is carried out without configuring or intervention of the device by the user.
Device data has to be merged into healthcare record
Data merging process is complex for systems such as ventilators, which are designed to run as standalone device.
Every device vendor has own protocol
An emergency department can have 10 distinct devices with 10 unique protocols.
No incentive for vendors to work with common standard
Device vendors don’t feel anything special about adopting a common standard that lets their device to communicate with other devices easily and share data with available EHR systems.
Devices and systems sharing data can lead to serious trouble. Lack of connectivity can leave room for errors.
This is the reason why hospitals and healthcare organizations need to implement middle ware solutions. Such solutions can be expensive, especially if multiple systems are involved.
HL7 messaging services can help the healthcare industry to innovate with its unique approach. If you want to learn about this technology, check out internet and read forums. You can gather core information about HL7 from there.