Technology is bringing transformation in every industry all over the globe. The health sector has also seen so much change because of the digitalization trend. The manual procedures of getting patient information and setting appointments have been replaced by digital solutions. Electronic health record vendors are offering healthcare units some very efficient health management systems. These systems are not only improving the effectiveness of health workers but facilitating patients in sharing their health records, test reports, and other information. All these systems are working concurrently because of the HL7 standards, created to remove all possible ambiguities.
There were many problems with manual operations of patient appointments and patient health record software took care of these problems. This system has reduced the chances of errors that usually occur during information gathering. Also, since the demand of the hour (due to the COVID-19) is that you should have minimum physical involvement, and these EHR systems ensured this situation for patients as well as the staff. Read on to learn what HL7 is and what it has to do with EHRs.
What are HL7 Standards?
Health Level Seven or HL7 comprises a set of international standards created to provide guidance with fetching, processing, transferring, and sharing of data between various healthcare providers. Furthermore, the standards offer guidelines on sharing of patient data between different types of patient health record software. These standards were created by Health Level Seven International. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards. These standards are usually used for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health records.
The HL7 Categories Include:
- Section One: This section of HL7 includes the standard system integrations and compliance methods. They are the primary standards and possibly the most popular among all the categories.
- Second Section: This section comprises the foundational standards that users can build and helps define the standards and technology infrastructure they plan to use.
- Third Section: This part helps link messaging and document standards for providers.
- Section Four: It states how electronic health records (EHR) are constructed and managed using profiles and models.
- Section Five: This section defines the methods used for implementation and includes support documents for other categories. This part may also serve as the supplemental section for other standards categories.
- Sixth Section: It details the rules and references used to develop programming structures for software and aids in standards development as well. The electronic health record vendorsusually use these standards when developing digital health systems.
- Section Seven: This part educates users and provides the tools to help aid in the development and adoption of HL7 standards.
If you do not have enough knowledge on HL7, reviewing these categories will make it easier to understand on a deeper level. There’s no better way to start than by going through and understanding each category before you dive into other details of these standards.
How Does HL7 Work?
Arguably, the two hottest topics in healthcare are EHRs and interoperability. Interoperability is the more important of the two. Because, without standards like HL7, it is difficult to get the most out of EHRs or use them outside of the hosting organization. If you compare it with solutions based on API technology, HL7 integration is a time-consuming and costly process. The reason is that like the way the internet links millions of websites together into the web, HL7 links health data uniformly.
HL7 offers a set of standards that let healthcare providers create uniform data that everyone can use if allowed. Patients often have more than one doctor and they can’t carry around their entire health record and test reports with them. And HL7 makes healthcare access readily available data to help them make better decisions and efficiently provide the best care.
Why Does Healthcare Need HL7?
Many healthcare providers including, doctors, nurses, and specialists require access to multiple electronic systems. They need this to see relevant diagnoses for a patient. This can become very challenging if they provide services in outpatient clinics that are not integrated with the local hospital system. This is where HL7 interoperability standards come in.
The HL7 standards provide a common language around content and structures for clinical data classes (e.g. diagnoses, allergies, procedures). You can exchange this data across EHRs without ambiguity and the risk of misinterpretation. All in all, healthcare needs automated systems to handle their patients as well as their staff. And these systems if created under the HL7 guideline can only synchronize with other systems of different healthcare units.