What are HL7 Interfaces and Why Does Healthcare Need Them

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HL7 standards were a leap in the right direction for healthcare providers. Lack of system interoperability was costing US Healthcare systems an annual loss of almost 30 billion USD.  Every healthcare provider has numerous specialized applications that interact with each other, right from billing, to diagnostics, to patient records. Since these applications are usually developed by different vendors, they might be built in different languages and platforms. That causes a block when it comes to different systems sending data to each other.

Let alone applications being unable to talk to each other seamlessly within one hospital or healthcare facility, the problem was compounded when two different healthcare providers needed a health information exchange of their data. Communication between different types of software has been hard to achieve before the development of common standards provided by HL7 protocols.

Health Level-7 or HL7 has been developed by Health Level 7 International, a not-for-profit organization. The advantage of the HL7 standard is that when a majority of healthcare software incorporates it, interoperability eases the exchange of health care data without having to resort to special software for conversion. So whether you are located in India, the UK, or the USA – it follows the same framework and similar standards.

How Does HL7 Work? 

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and interoperability are the two major drivers of technology in the healthcare segment. Interoperability is where the use of HL7 is highly significant.

To quickly understand how HL7 works, you can relate it to the process of the Internet linking millions of websites. Each of them might be developed using different languages such as PHP, .NET or WordPress (among many other platforms) but all follow the same W3C standards. Similarly, HL7 protocols define