HL7 Interfaces for Beginners: Everything you Need to Know

Daniel Pluard

June 21, 2022
Intely blog HL7 Interfaces
HL7 interfaces may seem like a foreign language if you’re new to the healthcare industry. In this industry, data is constantly being transferred between different organizations and medical devices. Here is where HL7 interfaces come into play. 

Today, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these interfaces and how they work. In this blog, we’ll answer your questions about HL7 and help you decide if this is the right solution for your facility.  

Introduction to HL7 Interfaces 

HL7 Interfaces connect different health IT systems and exchange health data between other systems. They can be used for the following: 

  • Exchange of clinical documents, e.g., discharge summaries 
  • Exchange of claims data (e.g., lab results) 
  • Archive management, e.g., retrieval of patient-related documents 

What are HL7 Interfaces? 

HL7 interfaces are used to connect different health IT systems. 

HL7 interfaces allow data to be exchanged between systems, allowing information to flow in both directions. They can also send messages and receive them. For example, one system may send a patient’s medical record to another for billing purposes. These two systems will use an HL7 interface to communicate so that the patient’s medical record can be sent from one system and received by the other system without any problems or delays. 

How Does HL7 Work? 

Now that you know what HL7 is let’s talk about how it works. 

HL7 is a standard that healthcare organizations use to communicate between systems. It also allows them to exchange information with other systems, like billing and patient portals. Medical professionals don’t just use HL7—patients also use it! Your doctor sends you an email or text message with your lab results or medication instructions because of HL7. 

Uses of HL7 

HL7 is used for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: 

  • Transmitting and receiving data between systems. 
  • Communicating between facilities and departments within the same facility. 
  • Sharing with external partners such as provider networks, payers, and other organizations. 

When Do You Need an HL7 Interface? 

You need an HL7 interface if you want to exchange health data with a partner or if your organization uses HL7 as its standard method for exchanging health information. 

The first scenario is pretty straightforward: you may have built a database, an application, or even an entire system that needs to communicate with another system. You need the two systems to talk so that they can exchange data. The second scenario is more complex because it involves technical and non-technical issues. 

Who Uses HL7 Interfaces? 

Many healthcare organizations use HL7 Interfaces. Some examples include: 

  • Clinical information systems 
  • CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) 
  • EHR (Electronic Health Record) vendors and hospitals seek to integrate with the CMS. In this case, HIMSS members use HL7 interfaces to connect with the CMS. 
  • HIEs (Health Information Exchanges). An example is Optum’s HIE called Optum360. The organization uses HL7 Interfaces to share patient data across multiple providers and geographic boundaries. 

If you need to exchange data with other systems, you need an interface engine. 

A facility, like a hospital or a clinic, with one system for exchanging clinical data and another system for billing, might be able to get by without an interface engine. However, if the facility needs to exchange clinical, financial, and operational information between these systems, it would be best for them to use an interface engine and their native interfaces. 

If you need a better way to communicate health data, you may want an HL7 interface. 

HL7 was developed by healthcare providers who wanted to create a standard for sharing information between healthcare providers. Hospitals and clinics use it and health information exchanges to communicate. The most common uses of HL7 are: 

  • Electronic medical records (EMRs) 
  • Health information systems (HISs) 

 The HL7 messaging standard has been around for a while and is not going away anytime soon. As more electronic health records (EHR) systems implement this technology to improve interoperability between providers and patients, the need for HL7 will only grow. The good news is that many options are available when choosing which type of interface engine best fits your needs. If you have questions about how an interface engine can make managing your data easier or want to get started with your project today, contact us at [email protected] 

The intely platform supports several HL7 standards, from HL7 V2 to C-CDA and FHIR. By complying with HL7 guidelines, the platform ensures that relevant patient information is present at the right time in the correct format, even when sourced from disparate settings, providing a rich and comprehensive view of individuals and populations. 

Schedule a demo today! 

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