Just imagine what would be the situation if all hospital information systems were sovereign nations that could freely exchange diplomatic notes in their native languages with one another.
This might sound like science fiction, yet it accurately depicts the pre-HL7 integration environment in many medical facilities. Needless to say, the days of exchanging paper notes are long gone, but the grim reality of the medical profession is such that still manual data interchange between various platforms is occurring on a large scale.
HL7 or what we generally called Health Level Seven was created to overcome this communication problem by enhancing the clinical data’s content and supplying the appropriate framework. With HL7 the entire process of gathering, analyzing, and transferring medical data is quick and error-free. Doctors can access medical histories with ease, nurses can keep an eye on upcoming operations and practices can effortlessly share diagnoses and test findings across EHRs (Electronic Health Records).
You might be wondering what this HL7 is all about, how its integration into the healthcare business can ease the process, and how it can prove to be a boon for the healthcare industry.
Well, let’s dig deeper to learn about the same.
As a leading company in the healthcare sector, Health Level Seven (HL7) International is a non-profit Standards Developing Organisation (SDO) recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
HL7 is in charge of creating standards (also known as specifications, protocols, or frameworks) that increase information exchange between all parties involved in the healthcare sector, optimize workflows, eliminate data ambiguity, and improve the delivery of treatment. The stakeholders include different vendors, government organizations, healthcare providers, other SDOs, and most importantly, patients.
The basic objective of HL7 is to encourage interoperability and guarantee that all parties involved in healthcare can communicate effectively and efficiently. By lowering the possibility of medical errors and enhancing the coordination of treatment, the standards developed by HL7 contribute to an overall improvement in care quality and boost patient safety.
When it comes to data sharing, the increase in complexity of healthcare information and management systems is creating new challenges. If we talk about solutions, HL7 comes to mind. Let’s see how it can put the process of communication at ease.
1.Maintains Data Consistency in Infrastructure
Several healthcare systems employ unique communication channels and forms. This affects efficient data interchange. However, healthcare organizations can upgrade their outdated software and guarantee data consistency across their infrastructure by utilizing HL7 standards.
2.Limits Investments in New Services & Programs
The HL7 interface engine allows healthcare providers to keep using their existing information systems, extending the lifespan and return on investment of those systems.
3.Simplifies the Process of Medical Decision Making
When it comes to the healthcare sector there is no room for hesitation. In many cases, medical professionals must choose a quick treatment choice for the patient. HL7 standards allow healthcare practitioners to easily acquire the required data and deliver immediate medical care.
4.Enables Standardized Data Sharing with Other Sources
Medical institutions frequently have to exchange data with other hospitals, research institutes, or service providers. HL7 standard ensures efficient and highly secure transfer of standardized data.
5.Minimizes Risks & Errors
Since HL7 is a set of formatting guidelines, there would be less ambiguity in health records, which would decrease the likelihood of errors.
6.Offers Better Patient Treatment
HL7 integration will help patients in many ways than just the quicker flow of health information. Moreover, having access to all health information, prescriptions, and treatment guidelines helps doctors provide better medical care.
7.Saves Time & Money
Data transfers would be sped up and made simpler with HL7, thus cutting down on operational and administrative expenses as well as time.
After going through the benefits of HL7 interface Integration, you must be aware of its capabilities. To make it more clear, here are some use cases that can help you understand its pros more clearly.
HL7 integration reduces manual labor, enhances patient care & customer service, and eliminates errors in healthcare procedures like data entry, lab testing, prescription filling, and order processing.
2.Patient EHR Management
Integrating EHRs with HL7 systems improves patient data access and administration, thus ensuring accurate and up-to-date information for comprehensive treatment.
3.Exchange of Information Between Healthcare Providers
The HL7 interface integration engine enables safe EHR migration or exchange between healthcare organizations, improving care delivery, patient outcomes, and healthcare decisions.
4.Patient Scheduling, Reminders, and Services
HL7 integration allows a seamless exchange of information between patients and healthcare professionals, which enhances patient services like scheduling, reminders, and appointment-related chores.
5.Shift Management for Healthcare Workers
Healthcare providers can track staff availability, assign shifts, and manage attendance by interconnecting systems with the aid of HL7 integration platforms. This ensures proper staff availability for patient needs and streamlines shift management.
Needless to say, HL7 standards in healthcare can streamline the process thus benefiting patients, doctors, and others involved. But when it comes to its implementation there are several hurdles to overcome. Some of the most common are
Excessive customization and vague data semantics offered by traditional HL7 integration often lead to data variation. In essence, many systems may interpret certain values differently.
For instance, value “3” might be applied to current and previous smokers in different systems. It causes misunderstandings and ambiguity about a patient’s condition, which may result in the worst possible consequences. As a result, each healthcare system and institution required a unique solution from providers.
2.Complex Interface Programming
When it comes to connecting two systems, one needs to do a lot of programming and be an expert on both systems. Even though HL7 software integration has not yet been developed, it still demands a lot of work and time. Moreover, more than two systems would require a lot of time to link. Additionally, you are required to test and continuously monitor the interfaces for any problems.
3.Difficult to Take Beyond Clinical Apps
If we talk about HL7 V2, it was created for clinical apps, particularly internal ones. It was not developed with the Internet in mind and did not anticipate patients’ future interest in their own health and analytical capabilities.
Therefore, it does not anticipate API compatibility with telemedicine, healthy living apps, patient-facing apps, or apps that offer statistics for a comprehensive view of the clinic and its performance. Because they don’t support the data types used by these apps, it demands a lot of work for a shaky connection, which most users are likely to give up.
4.Unavailability of On-Demand Information
In HL7 V2, whether or not you need the information right now, you must subscribe to a feed where it is shared. Because the system had access to more protected health information than was actually necessary, it causes a large amount of sending and receiving unnecessary information and privacy issues.
HL7 integration is a critical step for the healthcare sector because it enables hospitals to securely access and share patient data. Organizations may quickly adopt HL7 integration and take advantage of its enormous benefits with the correct equipment and knowledge. We advise you to begin by determining your project’s needs and available resources.
Apptunix has extensive knowledge of the challenges of data integration and has years of experience working in the healthcare IT sector. To make sure that everything goes according to plan and that all of your demands are satisfied, we work with you every step of the way in order to provide you with the solutions you are looking for.
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