HL7 Standards: Why they were Created and What are their Categories?

Consider all hospital information systems as independent states that communicate with each other by sharing diplomatic notes. And every state sends its note in its own language, the other state will find it very difficult to comprehend and give a response to this note. Therefore, in order to make this communication more efficient, they need to set some standards. The same is the case with hospitals; they also needed to have some standards for exchanging data and information. And as a result, HL7 standards were created.  

They designed the HL7 standard to address the communication issues hospitals were facing while sharing information. And for doing this, HL7 improved the content of clinical data and provided the necessary structure. The entire cycle of collecting, interpreting, processing, and exchanging medical information became efficient and error-free because of these standards. Practicing can easily share diagnoses and lab results across EHRs, and doctors could quickly access medical histories from new patient forms. Furthermore, HL7 data also abled the nurses to monitor planned procedures. 

What are the HL7 Standards? 

HL7 is a document established by consensus that provides rules, and guidelines, that can become standard for sharing and processing medical data. Moreover, this set of international health standards ‘Health Level-7 or HL7’ is also used for the transfer of administrative data between various software applications. Also, the HL7 standard aids health facilities to use new patient forms for ease in data management and processing. 

HL7 Standard and its Reference Categories: 

HL7 and its members provide a framework for the integration, sharing, exchange, and retrieval of electronic health and medical information. These standards guide health facilities on how they should package and communicate information among each other. They contain the language, structure, and data types essential for seamless integration between systems.  

Also, these standards support medical practice and the management, delivery, and evaluation of health services. These standards are recognized as the most commonly used all around the globe. HL7 is created and supported by the standards organization and it is one of the many American National Standards Institute (ANSI) credited with Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), that are operating in the healthcare field. 

Most SDOs create standards  (specifications and protocols) for a particular healthcare domain. These domains include pharmacy, medical devices, imaging, or insurance (claims processing) transactions. However, the Domain of HL7 provides administrative and clinical standards. 

Furthermore, you can group HL7 standards into several reference categories: 

Primary Standards: 

The essential and the most popular standards integral for system integrations, compliance, and interoperability are Primary standards. And this category includes the most in-demand and frequently used standards. 

Foundational Standards: 

These are the fundamental tools and building blocks used to build the standards, and the technology infrastructure that implementers of HL7 standards manage. 

Clinical and Administrative Domains: 

This section of standards comprises messaging and document standards for clinical specialties and groups. Once primary standards for the organization are in place, these are the standards that experts usually implement. 

EHR Profiles: 

The functional models and profiles that enable the constructs for the management of electronic health records come under this section. 

Implementation Guides: 

This document was created for implementation, guides, and/or support.  It was designed to be used in conjunction with an existing standard. Moreover, these documents serve as supplemental material for a parent standard. 

Rules and References: 

This sector consists of programming structures, technical specifications, and guidelines for software and standards development. 

Education and Awareness: 

This document refers to providing additional resources for more detailed HL7 data. Also, this comprises data of current trial projects which have already adopted HL7. Furthermore, this standard factsheet encapsulates the complete life cycle of a standards’ specification such as development, utilization, adoption, market recognition, and adherence. 

Wrap Up: 

The purpose behind the adoption of the HL7 standard is the creation of better tools and software to collect, manage, process, and transfer critical information. There is no doubt that the HL7 standard is bringing improvement in every aspect of healthcare. And this improvement has enhanced the efficiency and dynamic work besides lessening the chances of mistakes for health facilities. And the future of medical technology is very bright.  

There are chances that in the future, doctor-patient meetings will be like if a nurse measures a patient’s weight or blood pressure, she will then populate the result into his or her medical record for the doctor to view. Although, HL7 standards don’t make this happen, yet they can facilitate the health sector in making it possible more quickly. This is the whole about HL7 and its reference categories for your better understandings.


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