HL7 Integration Requirements and its Use in Healthcare
Why is HL7 Integration Needed In Healthcare?
Many healthcare providers use a variety of software and electronic systems to perform various activities such as billing, medical record maintenance, telehealth, and patient record updates.
The issue, however, is that communication between various software and systems is extremely difficult. As a result, HL7’s mandatory guidelines ensure that data can be easily incorporated through systems and without the use of special software.
By having a shared and common language in terms of content and structures for clinical classes, the importance and value of electronic health records (EHRs) can be maximized. Information can also be shared without ambiguity or fear of misinterpretation, allowing for better care delivery.
Furthermore, as data sharing becomes more convenient, the administrative and logistical burden on providers would be reduced. More information will be readily available, and clinical efficiency will increase, allowing medical practitioners to make better clinical decisions.
What is HL7 in Healthcare and how it works?
Health Level Seven (HL7) is a collection of formatting standards and guidelines designed to assist healthcare providers in the transmission and sharing of data. HL7 integration is a process that processes this data so that either the provider or the software system can interpret the data on the receiving end.
This framework is accomplished by defining how electronic healthcare data, such as clinical and administrative, is packaged and transported. This involves defining the language, type, and structure
Here are the most essential of these standards:
- HL7 V2 is the most widely adopted messaging standard for health and medical data transactions in use today.
- HL7 V3 is the next iteration that includes both messages and documents, and introduces a more comprehensive information model
- HL7 CDA standards (Clinical and Administrative Domain) are a part of the HL7 V3 specification that focuses on clinical documents
- HL7 CCD standards (Continuity Care Document) define patient medical summaries for the US market
- HL7 EHR is a collection of profiles and functional models for managing Electronic Health Records
- HL7 FHIR, or Fast Health Interoperable Resources, is the newly developed standard built with modular components and optimized for use with web-based APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
HL7 Standards simplifies interface implementation and eliminates the need to build custom interfaces between clinical applications. It also bridges the gap between health IT applications by enabling seamless integration between any systems. In comparison to previous approaches, compliance with HL7 standards simplifies and improves data exchange.
More than 90% of healthcare facilities in the United States and 27 other countries currently use HL7, rendering it a global standard. After all, it serves as a link between providers and improves interoperability. It also facilities data interaction and transmission, making it indispensable in the industry.
HL7 Integration Options
An enterprise such as a hospital has many HL7 enabled applications. To reduce data entry duration and increase overall efficiency of the facility, these applications should communicate with each other
An HL7 interface development includes:
- An export endpoint for the sending application
- An import endpoint for the receiving application
- A method of moving data between the two endpoints
There are two basic ways for effective communication:
Point-to-point where each pair of applications communicates independently of other applications. Point-to-point interfaces send data from system A to system B through an interface in between (FIFO). It is very expensive and time consuming to implement communications. Hence it may not would not work effectively for a vendor.
Using an interface / integration engine placed in the midst of all the applications to aid in information exchange and monitoring. Hence the interoperability of the entire system would remain effective. It is comparatively less time consuming and less expensive due to engine flexibility. Interface monitoring and adding new or replacing existing applications is considerably better.
Each provider should decide which option would be more productive and cost-effective for their organization. If the interfacing environment is limited and focused, then the point-to-point approach may work. If the interfacing requirements are growing internally to streamline workflow and externally to meet EMR requirements, then the interface engine approach would be better.
Healthcare Integration Requirements
First In, First out (FIFO)
The exchange of clinical data must be in FIFO order. The first HL7 message received will also be the first HL7 message delivered
Flexibility to Address Varying Requirements
Since HL7 is essentially a platform for negotiation, the interface solution must be flexible to deal with HL7 V2.3.1, V2.4, V2.5, etc. It should be able to send one message in varied versions to multiple applications.
External Application and Provider Integration
Real-world integration takes place between multiple applications in multiple locations. Healthcare interface traffic can be intense so a strong traffic director in the middle is extremely important. Else, the output will get delayed which might lead to costly implementations, application modifications, etc. Each application in the integration path should be able to send and/or receive data, ideally in an HL7 format.
Short Implementation Cycle
The workflow for interface configuration should be easy, logical and GUI driven. The developer does not have to be available to implement each application or site.
The number of interfaces will grow over time. An interface solution must also be able to grow with the demands of the market.
Different Data Formats
In addition to HL7, the interface solution should be able to handle other clinical standards including the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), Continuity of Care (CCR), and XML.
Ease of Interface Testing & Maintenance
Delivering quality interfaces is crucial. Hence, few testing functions such as conformance checking, message unit testing, and communication testing should be incorporated within the interface solution.
Ease of Monitoring & Management
To keep customer support costs low, interface implementations should be easy to monitor and resolution tools should be readily available to fix any upcoming error.
How is HL7 Integration Used in Healthcare
Automation Of Processes
Data exchange will become automated, which will reduce administrative burden while improving clinical performance.
Easier Service For Patients
Patients will be able to conveniently access their results and records online. They will also be relieved of the time-consuming process of transporting their documents from specialist to specialist.
EHR Management For Incoming Patients
HL7 integrated software systems will enable data transfer and storage, allowing healthcare providers to easily access the medical files of their incoming patients.
Exchange Of Information Between Healthcare Providers
Services will be able to exchange information in a consistent and streamlined manner, reducing delays, misinterpretations, and uncertainty.
Exchange Of Information With Regulators
To meet public health reporting standards, data can be conveniently and efficiently distributed to government agencies and regulators.
Reduce Investments In New Services And Programs
Healthcare providers will be able to continue using their current information systems by using HL7 interface engine , which would expand their systems’ life and ROI.
Reduce Risks And Errors
As HL7 is a set of formatting standards, there would be less ambiguity within health records, reducing the possibility for mistakes.
Save Time And Money
HL7 would simplify and accelerate data exchanges, reducinfoing administration and operational time and costs.
Why do I Need a HL7 Integration Expert?
While HL7 may sound very simple, HL7 integration involves a number of challenges for software vendors and healthcare organizations.
Properly implemented HL7 interfaces can reduce duplicate data entry and enhance end user workflow. But, as with any new technology, the way HL7 interfaces are implemented may dictate the success of the technology.
Fortunately, proper implementation can limit the risk of failed HL7 work efforts, resulting in successful project outcomes.
HL7 Integration Expert for the Win
An HL7 Integration Expert can help your organization avoid a number of poor HL7 outcomes, including incorrect tracking of patients throughout their stays, results not presenting for the correct patient and results presenting on an incorrect patient record.
Coupling strong HL7 Integration Experts along with coordinated testing can provide successful outcomes for an implementation.
The Last Word
At KPi-Tech, our dedicated team members have prior experience working in the Healthcare IT services and how to integrate HL7 data from EHR systems. We are committed to providing a fast, dependable, and scalable solution for the instant sharing of data. You can trust us to increase your access to healthcare information and assist you in HL7 interface development for your system.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org | +1 302 451 9598 to schedule a call with one of our experts and learn the best practices to integrate HL7 into your systems today.