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Healthcare providers and facilities must access various electronic systems to view relevant patient records and documents. With the challenges of health data spreading across multiple hospitals and appearing in different formats, HL7 integration becomes crucial to streamline and unify the information access process.
Health Level Seven (HL7) is a collection of formatting standards and guidelines designed to assist healthcare providers in the transmission and sharing of data. Want to learn more about HL7 integration? integration? Read this Softermii’s guide.
Our company often uses HL7 interface standards in the development of healthcare products. We delivered our apps like HIPAA Telmed, MedRealtime, and InfoMed Telehealth, following those standards, and can share relevant expertise with you.
So read on to fully comprehend HL7 significance, how it works, why systems need HL7 data integration, how to integrate an HL7 with APIs, and the benefits of HL7 in healthcare.
Why Is HL7 Integration Needed in the Healthcare Industry?
Healthcare providers use software and electronic systems to perform various activities such as billing, medical record maintenance, telehealth, and patient record updates.
Such software may include the following:
- Hospital information system (HIS)
- Electronic medical record (EMR)
- Electronic health record (EHR)
- Lab information system (LIS)
- Radiology information system (RIS)
- Picture archiving and communication system (PACS)
All software solutions above communicate in different languages and formats, making data collection a complex process. As a result, HL7’s mandatory guidelines are necessary to ensure that data can be easily incorporated through healthcare systems.
By having a shared and common language in terms of content and structures for clinical classes, the 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 will be reduced. More information will be readily available, and clinical efficiency will increase, allowing medical practitioners to make better clinical decisions.
HL7 Integration by Using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
As useful as the HL7 standards are, traditional integration techniques are insufficient to meet the needs of modern healthcare providers. After all, as the industry and technologies evolve, medical professionals will need to accept non-clinical applications.
Mobile and SaaS applications have become increasingly intertwined with the online medical industry, but they use data formats that are unfamiliar to the majority of clinical systems. In order to seamlessly connect these radically different message standards, APIs must be used to scale these integrations.
Since APIs provide a standardized and public interface, any approved application with the proper security authentication may send and receive data. This enables fast and smooth communication between multiple systems and third-party applications. Businesses may also benefit from being able to send data to different government departments to meet public health reporting standards.
Healthcare providers can also exchange patient health records with community care organizations and other third-party medical facilities in order to influence informed medical choices. Furthermore, an HL7 integration case study reveals that by reusing the same collection of APIs with these associated partners, it would be possible to cut communication time by more than 50%.
Another benefit is that APIs provide an amazing opportunity for real-time interoperability by including methods for posting, updating, and retrieving complex data.
Key Advantages of HL7 Standards in Healthcare Industry
Medical facilities can benefit from HL7 healthcare standards integration in several ways. Here are the main advantages of HL7:
Maintaining Data Consistency in the Infrastructure
As already stated, different healthcare systems use specific communication means and formats. That creates an issue of smooth data exchange. Yet, by using HL7 standards, healthcare organizations can ensure data consistency across their infrastructure and update their legacy software.
Simplifying the Process of Medical Decision-Making
There is no room for hesitation in the healthcare industry. In many emergencies, doctors must decide on the patient’s treatment right away. By integrating HL7 standards, healthcare professionals can quickly access the necessary data and provide instant medical care.
Reducing Investments in New Services and Programs
Healthcare providers can continue using their current information systems using the HL7 interface engine, which would expand their systems’ life and ROI.
Allowing Standardized Data Sharing with Other Sources
Medical organizations often need to share their data with external healthcare facilities, research centers, or third-party service providers. The use of HL7 in healthcare ensures the smooth transmission of standardized data with a high level of security.
Reducing Risks and Errors
As HL7 is a set of formatting standards, there would be less ambiguity within health records, reducing the possibility of mistakes.
Saving Time and Money
The HL7 standards would simplify and accelerate data exchanges, reducing administration and operational time and costs.
Making Services Easier for Patients
Patients will be able to access their results and records online conveniently. They will also be relieved of the time-consuming process of transporting their documents from specialist to specialist.
Providing Better Patient Treatment
HL7 integration makes life easier for patients not only due to smoother exchange of health data. It also enables doctors to improve the quality of their medical services, as all health data, prescriptions, and treatment standards are at their fingertips.
How HL7 Is Used in Healthcare
Please consider some examples of HL7 use cases to understand how the benefits we mentioned today work in practice better. Here are some options for the integration of HL7 interfaces:
Automation of Processes
Data exchange will become automated with HL7, reducing administrative burden while improving clinical performance.
EHR Management for Incoming Patients
HL7 integrated software systems will enable data transfer and storage, allowing healthcare providers to access the medical files of their incoming patients effortlessly.
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
Data can be conveniently and efficiently distributed to government agencies and regulators to meet public health reporting standards.
Healthcare Workers’ Shift Management
By integrating HL7 into the hospital work processes, medical facilities can comprehend the medical staff workload better. Healthcare organizations can view real-time data and distribute shifts between doctors and other medical workers fairly.
Scheduling, Reminders, and Other Patient Services
You can use HL7 standards in healthcare to create software with services for patients. On such a platform, patients will schedule appointments, set medication reminders, review their medical history, etc.
How to Build an HL7 Interface for Your Healthcare Company
If you want to implement HL7 interfaces standards in your healthcare company, keep reading our step-by-step integration guide. The process of HL7 integration consists of the following stages:
1. Gather Sample Data
First, you need to get sample data from the healthcare system. We recommend using a data-gathering tool to help you collect all information in a standardized and structured format.
2. Analyze the Gathered Data and Its Structure
If you gathered data with an HL7 listener tool at the previous stage, you’d get data in an HL7 message format. Once you’ve collected that information, you should analyze it with suitable software like a message transformation app. This tool will help you structure all data into tables and segments.
3. Build the Messaging, Segmentation, and Table Grammar
The next stage of HL7 hospital integration involves identifying the most suitable type of segment and table grammar for gathered data. The selection of the appropriate type depends on the functions you need your healthcare system to perform.
4. Design and Code Your Interface
At this point, you should develop the interface, i.e., write its backend and frontend code. Then, ensure the efficient logging strategies for your HL7 interface to operate correctly. Plus, you should design a user-friendly interface at this stage.
5. Deploy and Test Your Interface
Finally, you can conduct testing and quality assurance to ensure your HL7 interface is bug and error-free. You may apply the message transformation app as a QA tool. After fixing all the issues, you can deploy the interface.
These five straightforward steps will help you integrate HL7 standards into your healthcare organization.
Custom HL7 Interface Cost and Maintenance
Now that you know how to build an HL7 interface in healthcare organizations, you may wonder how much it all costs. Let’s consider the expenses associated with compliance to HL7 standards.
Custom HL7 Interface Design and Development Expenses
If you build a custom HL7 interface, the cost will be higher than if you use other tools like APIs for interface integration. For example, bespoke software design and development will require about $8,000 and more for a single interface. Yet, healthcare facilities often need more HL7 interfaces for various procedures; thus, the expenses may be higher.
Using APIs or interface engines can significantly reduce your development expenses. In this case, you’ll need to pay for licensing, but you’ll get your HL7 interface faster and still for a more reasonable price.
Another price-influencing factor includes port fees. These are expenses for introducing a point of import and export to your HL7 interface. You'll require four such ports if you need to connect two systems, i.e., two HL7 interfaces.
One port integration will cost you about $5,000. As a result, connecting two HL7 interfaces requires $20,000.
Data Transfer Expenses
Once you cover your design, development, and port expenditures, you need to consider data transfer fees. You can use SSL for secure data transmission at a reasonable price. It’ll cost you about $60 per year, but you can find even cheaper options.
Softermii’s CEO Takeaway
It’s clear by now that the HL7 V2 standard for healthcare providers has had a significant impact.
It offers the guidelines required to assist software vendors and healthcare providers in properly storing and sharing data. It also ensures that data can be quickly shared through networks and written in a consistent manner. Therefore, it is valued for reducing administrative burdens and improving care delivery.
However, in order to reap all of these benefits, healthcare systems would need proper HL7-FHIR-integration through web APIs. Without them, failure is inevitable.
At Softermii, our dedicated team members have prior experience working in the healthcare sector and integrating HL7 data from EHR systems. We are committed to providing fast, dependable, and scalable solutions for instant data sharing. You can trust us to increase your access to healthcare information and assist you in integrating HL7 into your system.
Schedule a call with one of our experts and learn the best practices to integrate HL7 into your systems today.
Instead of the Last Word
Are you still hesitating whether you need healthcare HL7 data integration standards? They are a must if you aim to ensure interoperability, streamlined health data collection and exchange, better decision-making, improved patient treatment, and cost-efficiency.
When opting for HL7 integration, you can use several approaches to tackle this task. You may want to implement these standards through available APIs or interface engines or build a custom HL7 interface.
Developing a custom HL7 interface undoubtedly requires experts in this niche. In case you’re looking for some, Softermii has got you covered. With our proven record of successful healthcare projects using HL7, some of which include HIPAA Telmed and MedRealtime, our team can effortlessly deliver HL7 interfaces for you. Feel free to contact our experts for more details.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the HL7 integration challenges you may face?
First of all, the HL7 integration can be a complex, costly, and time-consuming process. It requires tracking every healthcare system you aim to integrate your interface with to ensure full compatibility. Another challenge you may face is inconsistent data semantics before HL7 implementation, which may cause misinterpretation.
What is the importance of HL7 standards in healthcare?
The HL7 interface standards help medical facilities access standardized data from various healthcare systems. They also allow for smooth data collection and sharing between hospitals, doctors, and patients. Such interfaces serve as a viable solution for increasing interoperability between various medical organizations.
What HL7 interface engines should be used?
Should I use HL7 integration platforms?
Yes, you can use HL7 integration engines. They offer reasonable pricing and allow for fast deployment.
Why should I use HL7 software integration services?
You should opt for HL7 software integration services to establish a proper data collection and transfer process. Experienced developers will help you segment your data and ensure the seamless connection of various electronic health systems.
What is the difference between custom and standard HL7 interfaces?
Custom HL7 interface standards offer extensive flexibility and scalability, and you can make them compatible with any healthcare system. They also allow for advanced data governance. Standard HL7 interfaces come with plenty of helpful features, yet they need to catch up when it comes to customization.
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