What are HL7 Interfaces and Why Does Healthcare Need Them

What if the multiple healthcare IT systems communicate with each other through an efficient interface, to facilitate industry-accepted standards and a common framework? Manual data exchange among several health care information systems is an old tale of the healthcare segment; and everyone is behind the comprehensive solutions to make the entire cycle of sourcing, interpretation, analysis, and exchange of medical information hassle-free.

Unlike the earlier times, the current era has been forced to establish a unified, global, and highly flexible standard that can facilitate the quick movement and representation of healthcare information. Medical Economics survey reported that about 36% of healthcare providers wished documentation issues of existing EHR systems to be addressed efficiently. (Source)

HL7 standards have been designed to ease the communication issues with the improved mode of managing the medical information to make it flawless.

With these standards, it has become easier to share lab results, diagnoses, and important documents across Electronic Health Records (EHR), access the medical history, track and analyze the planned medical procedures, and much more.

What does HL7 integration mean, why has it gained so much importance, and how does it work? This blog is a sincere effort to answer all these questions and let you understand all about the application of the HL7 interfaces in detail.

What is HL7?

HL7, the acronym for Health Level 7, can be defined as a global set of standards that can be used to guide the data transfer and data sharing among different healthcare providers. These standards were developed by the non-profit firm Health Level Seven International, which focused on delivering an extensive framework and similar standards to facilitate integration, health information exchange, data sharing, and recovery. With these standards, you can enhance clinical procedures, processes, and evaluation of the health services.

How Does HL7 Work?

Electronic Health Records or EHRs and interoperability are the two major concepts prevalent in the healthcare segment. Among them, the most significant aspect is interoperability, where the use of HL7 is highly visible.

To easily get an idea of how HL7 works, you can relate it to the process of the Internet linking millions of websites combined to the World Wide Web. It combines all the health-related data uniformly and makes the data sharing prompt. With code and hardware, which operates in the background to ensure that the browser can exhibit the information on a particular website. Thus, healthcare providers can effortlessly build uniform data highly accessible to everyone.

It is impossible for the patients to always carry all the health records, especially when they have more than one doctor or have made multiple visits. In such cases, HL7 interfaces can make the data accessible to the healthcare providers to make great decisions, reduce risk elements, and build the best patient care.

Who Uses HL7 Standards?

When compared to the other countries, healthcare spending in India is on a higher side, with 6% of GDP and 13 USD per capita (Source). Additionally, to manage health information, HL7 standards can be helpful for various healthcare firms, hospitals, private clinics, healthcare software providers, Governmental healthcare institutions, pharmaceutical companies, etc. They are commonly used by:

  • Government Healthcare firms; hold on to the messaging standard that can cater to the requirement of massive data exchange and movement of clinical information.

  • Clinical Interface Specialists, who use various tools to share the data and clinical information across various applications among the healthcare providers.

  • Clinical Informaticists, who are specialized in the field of health informatics, and manage the clinical data creation, medical service processes, etc.

Why does healthcare need HL7?

Healthcare providers need to utilize multiple electronic systems to track and analyze the various patient diagnoses systems. According to a Stanford Medicine survey, about 59% of physicians expressed the wish to have significant changes in their systems. (Source).

It is even more complicated when they offer services in outpatient clinics which are not incorporated with the local hospital mechanism. In such circumstances, healthcare industries opt for HL7 interoperability standards to improve data exchange among EHRs and encourage the use of common language for clinical data processes like allergies, diagnoses, procedures, etc.

Benefits Of HL7 Interface for Healthcare

The Indian healthcare industry is expected to leap 61.79 billion USD from FY17 to 132.84 billion USD by FY22 with GR of 16% to 17%. (Source). With this increase, there comes the need for improved healthcare standards to manage medical data.

The structured strategy followed by HL7 can build completely integrated healthcare applications, define the comprehensive data structure to store and exchange healthcare-related data. With these standards, doctor-patient meetings will be more refined- nurses measuring the vitals, and all the results electronically entered into the medical records. Here are the benefits of the HL7 protocol for the healthcare segment.

Facilitates the Integration with Healthcare Systems

Healthcare firms are evolving and are into the utilization of advanced software to enhance daily processes. This software can be designed for various functionalities with essential features. However, it is challenging when the data systems are complex and need simple solutions to overcome information management. HL7 protocol can address these challenges with functionality to access and retrieve healthcare data from various healthcare software systems.

Enhances the automation of workflows

The EHR and EMR implementation rates are greater than ever with 89% growth. (Source). They used to be the popular and well-known systems used to practice the processes of workflow automation, however, it was difficult to interpret the various EHRs and information sources, when a massive scale of information is considered. In such cases, HL7 standards are ideal to improve interoperability and share information with healthcare systems. It can also work well for process automation, regardless of having comprehensive EHR systems.

Fosters Worldwide Collaboration

HL7 acts as the crucial resource capable of implementing global collaboration of medical data. The Health Level Seven standards incorporate a great bond that combines the processes of clinics, labs, medical care players, healthcare providers, etc.

Augments Clinical Productivity

The significant medical documents and data can be managed to enhance the productivity and quality related to patient care. It can empower the quality of information exchange that can allow clinicians to obtain relevant up-to-date information and have easy access to persistent medical records.

Eradicates Administrative flaws

All the healthcare information is synchronized and the administrative errors are eliminated through effective management of patient documents. HL7 protocols can also save time and assure exact automation while managing patient records.

Embraces Adaptability and Innovation

Healthcare organizations can explore diverse opportunities to cater to adaptability and consistent data transmissions by looking over the vast pool of medical records. Compared to the other software solutions, HL7 interoperability provides further opportunities to explore a wide range of information.

Final Thoughts

HL7 standards have made patient-specific information available to healthcare firms at the right time, with a comprehensive view of the records as required. Many providers have introduced the HL7 interface, known as the HL7 connector, which is utilized in healthcare software products to enhance the efficiency of EHR in the healthcare segment. With the HL7 connectors that follow HL7 compliance, our solutions make health information exchange, data sharing, and management effortless.

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