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HL7 Overview

What is HL7?

HL7, (Health Level Seven), is a standard for exchanging information between medical applications. This standard defines a format for the transmission of health-related information.

Information sent using the HL7 standard is sent as a collection of one or more messages, each of which transmits one record or item of health-related information. Examples of HL7 messages include patient records, laboratory records and billing information.

Although HL7 and their messages are widely used, many systems don’t know how to speak the language and require a translator. HL7 interface engines work alongside existing applications as an interpreter, speaking the language of HL7.

Here’s a short, animated video that explains in plain language what HL7 is and exactly what it does:

5 Ways To Speed Up HL7 Integration


The following sections provide an overview of the HL7 standard. The following topics are covered:

  • What an HL7 message looks like, and what its components are;
  • What versions of the HL7 standard are in use or are under development;
  • The HL7 acknowledgment (ACK) protocol that indicates that an HL7 message has been successfully received.

Additional sections discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using the HL7 standard and provide technical details of the HL7 standard and its common transport methods. You will not need to read these sections to understand the HL7 standard, but they may be useful to you if you need additional background information to implement your application or interface.

To learn more about the HL7 organization and standard, refer to the official HL7 website, http://www.hl7.org.


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