HL7 Integration: How to simplify it?
HL7 standards are the most extensively used standards in today's healthcare industry. Why? Because these standards reduce vendors' effort and relieve them of the burden of customizing and programming each system for specific applications. Furthermore, the healthcare institution gets access to best practices for processes such as patient attribute gathering.
What is the HL7 protocol?
The terms HL7 and interface can be used to describe HL7 interfaces. Healthcare organizations use HL7 to enable communication between clinical applications.
Interconnection or communication between those apps or systems is defined as an interface. It is vital for healthcare application vendors to provide a mechanism for this interaction within their applications.
The HL7 interface requirements for various message types will be used as a starting point, and healthcare providers will also supply input and/or output interfaces for their applications. An HL7 interface includes the following:
· For the transmitting application's export endpoint
· Endpoint for import: In order to receive the application
· Method: Data transfer between two applications
These three parts will come together to make an HL7.
HL7 is divided into seven sections. Each section serves a purpose and establishes a new set of guidelines that may expand on the previous set.
· The standard system integrations and compliance techniques are defined in the first section. These are the most basic and arguably the most well-known of the categories.
· The second section explains how the users intend to leverage standards and technical infrastructure.
· The third section of HL7 assists providers in connecting messaging and document standards.
· The fourth section delves into the specifics of electronic health records (EHR), such as how they are built and managed to utilize profiles and models.
· The fifth section covers the most significant implementation methods as well as supporting documentation for other categories.
· Section six delves into the rules and references used to create software programming structures, as well as how they might help with standardization.
· Section seven contains material that informs both users and developers about HL7 standards adoption and development tools.
What makes HL7 unique?
There will be tight requirements for processing and working on it while looking around the other standards. However, the HL7 standards are a collection of poorly defined guidelines. These guidelines were created with the goal of finding a speedy solution to healthcare integration issues. As a result, there are many different versions and elements of HL7 floating around, making connecting between different systems challenging.
Furthermore, some aspects of the standard are at best vague and include notable alternatives. As a result, different vendors offer their opinions.
Maintain your translation Simple
When merging two systems, maintain your translations in the same language to minimize the chance of data being lost or mistranslated. More than 90% of interfaces require transforming or translating one HL7 v2.x version into another HL7 v2.x version. HL7 v3 is a complete reworking of the standard based on XML. Attempting to interconnect systems by translating from HL7 v2.x to XML and then back into a separate dialect of HL7 v2.x adds a significant amount of risk and time.
To avoid mistranslations during the integration process, keep the language simple and consistent.
Make use of the most effective tools that are easily visible.
Because manufacturers are always changing their products/software to stay up with technological advancements, integration is always a shifting target for them. Interfaces are frequently altered as a result of technical improvements or updates. What data do they send or receive, for example, or how the data is presented? So, when looking for the finest integration solution, make sure that the transactions have strong and clear visibility. Because the support team must be able to immediately view and identify all transactions in and out of a system when you go live with your interface. This will ultimately save you time and money during implementation.
Choosing the correct integration solution with good visibility will enable your team to swiftly look up all transactions in a short amount of time, lowering installation costs.
Never Use Standard Data and Always Use Real-life data
One of the real-world difficulties is integration. Almost all of the leading healthcare systems in today's industry were founded more than a decade ago. These systems exist because people strive hard to accomplish their best, not because they rigidly follow the rules. In real-world interfacing, the shortest and most precise approach to interoperability is preferred. It's critical to be able to work with real data that comes from a system or is requested by a system.
"HL7 is a non-standard, standard," or "HL7 is a terrific standard, everyone has one," are two memorable HL7 descriptions. As previously stated, the standards' leniency means that they should operate with an organization's current data and interfaces rather than forcing enterprises to construct anything from the ground up to comply with the standard.
Make a Data Model Plan
Interfacing should constantly strive to keep your work and interfaces as simple as feasible. You can prevent the need for several duplicate mappings inside your interfaces by designing your data model or developing a more efficient data model on top of a sub-optimal legacy one. You can easily maintain old code and bring new interfaces online when you standardise and normalise the data, both within your internal data structure and your interfaces. If you keep a patient's first and last name in both your lab result and pharmacy database tables, for example, you've effectively quadrupled the number of mappings needed for each interface.
This kind of redundancy can easily get out of control, leaving your integration engineers with a mountain of glue code to manage at each site. As the number of interfaces, you maintain rises, a well-planned data model will yield tremendous benefits for each interaction.
Take into account your monitoring strategy.
Keeping your interfaces up and running is half the battle of integration. Make sure the solutions you choose have tools for monitoring your interfaces and alerting your technical team when issues arise. Having all of the tools and training necessary to not just establish but also monitor and maintain interfaces is critical to the achievement of your overall integration goals.
By using these best practices, most healthcare organizations can overcome the rising problems of HL7 integration. Hospitals and healthcare networks can cut integration time and costs by ensuring real-time access to the data they need, boosting efficiency and improving overall patient care.