What is HL7®?

A guide to Health Level Seven (HL7): The standard that ensures data consistency across disparate systems, and plays a major role in healthcare interoperability.

Learn more about working with HL7®.

Introduction to HL7®

Health Level Seven (HL7®) is a healthcare-specific standards organization whose primary focus is creating a defined set of international messaging standards used to support interoperability and communication between applications and devices. These message standards can be organized into three main HL7 Standard Versions, HL7 Version 2 (v2), Version 3 (v3) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). The HL7 v2.x standard is the most common data standard in the healthcare industry today.

Why does it matter?

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. There are many different types of HL7 messages designed to communicate information essential to providing fast, quality patient care, such as patient data, laboratory records and billing information. HL7® specification documents provide the framework in which HL7 messages are formatted and transported between healthcare organizations.

HL7 & Iguana

Although HL7® and their messages are widely used, many systems don’t know how to speak the language and require a translator. HL7 integration engines work alongside existing applications as an interpreter, creating HL7 interfaces and speaking the language of HL7®. Integration engines like Iguana, ensure communicating healthcare information as HL7® messages is fast, reliable, secure, and cost effective.

HL7® Explainer Video

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



The HL7® Standard: An Overview

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.


HL7® Versions

The HL7 ® Organisation has developed various HL7® Standards: Version 2, Version 3, and FHIR. Learn more about them here.


HL7® Message Structure

Although HL7® messages are human readable, they still require effort to interpret manually. Learn how HL7 messages are organized.


HL7® Message Types

There are many different types of HL7® messages, each serving a unique purpose. Learn more about some of the most common types here.


HL7® Transport Methods

HL7® messages are sent via a variety of TCP/IP transports, including LLP, FTP, SOAP, and SMTP. Learn more about the transfer protocols here.

Integration with HL7®

HL7® is a great standard, but anyone with first hand experience knows it's not without its challenges. We're here to help!

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The ''non-standard" Standard

In practice, you'll find that everyone formats HL7 messages slightly different, even though it has a standard structure in place. With iNTERFACEWARE's integration engine, you can ensure that all data is normalized as intended for full compliance.


Version Compatiblity

What happens when the source destination is sending one version of HL7®, while the recipient's system can only handle an older version of HL7®? With Iguana you can convert HL7® versions on the fly.


Data Extraction

As you've seen, HL7® messages can contain a lot of information -- sometimes much more than you need. Simplify things using Iguana, by extracting the data from the specific HL7® fields you need. 


Future Proofing

The HL7® organization is always working on improving the standard and new versions will keep coming in the future. Ensure that your data always remains compatible with iNTERFACEWARE's integration engine, Iguana.

At iNTERFACEWARE we specialize in connecting everything, and our Iguana integration solution can connect with and leverage the HL7 standard

Hear from our HL7® Integration Specialists

At iNTERFACEWARE we specialize in connecting everything. Our solution, Iguana can connect anything HL7 related.