HL7 interface - intely

HL7 introduced the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard in 2014 as a viable alternative to the HL7 V2 and V3 standards. 

HL7 and its members provide a framework for electronic health information exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval. These guidelines specify how data is prepared and communicated from one party to another.

HL7 standards are the most widely used globally for medical care support and the management, delivery, and evaluation of health care.

What is an HL7 standard?

HL7 refers to “Health Level Seven” standards that help the development organization establish a next-generation interoperability standard. 

The use of HL7 maintains the gap between the growing amount of healthcare data and our ability to make it accessible, computable, and useable to improve outcomes. 

HL7, a collection of international data-sharing standards popularized by Health Level Seven, a non-profit organization focused on healthcare interoperability, is probably familiar to everyone.

HL7 simplifies implementing interfaces and eliminates the requirement for specialized interfaces across clinical applications.

Why was HL7 developed?

The process of data sharing across healthcare systems was extremely complicated before creating HL7. Both the transmitting and receiving programs needed a lot of code to complete the data exchange procedure. 

Because there were no common patient characteristics, these interfaces were expensive. As a result, in the 1980s, a typical hospital had a small number of clinical interfaces and a high cost per interface.

The primary purpose of HL7 is to reduce the expense of custom interface development by simplifying the creation of interfaces between medical care software applications and various manufacturers.

Why does healthcare need HL7 standards?

Most healthcare practitioners now employ a variety of software for billing, patient record management, and data updates, among other things. 

The main issue is that software communication is difficult to establish, even though they frequently need to communicate. Also, when two healthcare practitioners need to communicate information, there will be some issues.

HL7 establishes standards and recommendations to assist software developers and healthcare professionals in consistently storing and moving data. 

As a result, the apps may utilize the data without specific conversion tools. As a result, HL7 facilitates data sharing, reducing the administrative load on providers while also increasing medical delivery.

Categories of HL7 standards:

  • Primary Requirements

    Primary standards are the most widely used system integration, interoperability, and compliance. Here you’ll find our most popular and in-demand standards.

  • Healthcare and Organizational Categories

    This section comprises clinical specializations and groups’ message and document standards. These standards are normally adopted after the organization’s primary standards have been established.

  • Implementation Instructions

    This section contains implementation instructions and support papers designed to follow a standard. All of the publications in this section are meant to supplement a parent standard.

  • Rules and References

    Technical requirements, programming structures, and recommendations for software development and standards. All of this is covered by HL7, which includes development, acceptance, market recognition, and usage.

How do you choose the best HL7 standard for improved patient care?

STEP 1: The first and most important step in determining if HL7 FHIR or other healthcare interoperability standards give the best path to achieving interoperability goals is to establish the intended outcome. 

Cross-functional collaboration requires identifying important stakeholders—those who stand to gain the most—and precise facts about their needs and objectives. 

Then take a step back and consider how those special requirements fit into the overall business and care environment.

STEP 2: The next step is to devise a strategy for achieving those goals and priorities. “What are the most critical strategies to improve patient care while increasing profitability?” for example. 

After the objectives have been established, several considerations must be made to see if the FHIR is a suitable fit for the project’s aims and outcomes.

Importance of considering all HL7 standards:

The HL7 FHIR standard is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every standard may overlap with other standards and strengths and weaknesses in other categories. 

Focusing on the original business case, ultimate goals, and specific demands are always good. Here are some of the most widely utilized interoperability standards’ advantages and disadvantages.

  • HL7 messaging: Benefits

It’s ideal for exchanging massive amounts of data (optimized parsers, low encoding character overhead).

Mature, well-understood, and commonly used for intra-company communication.

Data gathering is based on triggers and actions, with trade partners and systems that have been pre-set up to a large extent and confirmation and approval plans that are remotely overseen or proposed.

  • HL7 messaging: Limitations

Limited use outside the organization for lab orders and results, public health, and occasionally wrapped in APIs for a specific purpose.

Push transactions are mostly limited (limited query or subscription capability widely supported in major systems).

  • C-CDA: Benefits

  1. Handles a variety of scenarios, including care coordination and referrals.
  2. Provides a snapshot of data for a certain period, such as an event or a period.
  3. Metadata and human readability are supported.
  • C-CDA: Limitations

  1. Complex standard with a lot of room for interpretation and the potential for quality problems.
  2. It isn’t the best option (document size and complexity increase processing requirements).
  3. Frequently used for data push operations to data repositories through IHE protocols or Direct (data source controls what data is supplied), resulting in too much or incorrect data.

Due to the breadth and complexity of the information in a complete document, document production might cause some delays when employed in on-demand processes.

Pros and Cons of HL7 Standards:

  • Event-based messaging

FHIR enables event-based messaging in the same way as HL7 V2 does. However, when comparing the two, FHIR, unlike version 2, supports various paradigms, such as documents, REST, and other service models.

  • Extensibility: 

The sender’s usage of “Z-segments” – opaque without prior manual explanation provides an extensibility method in HL7 v2. FHIR extensions, on the other hand, can appear at any level, including within data types. 

  • Unfinished structure: 

The “segment” structure in HL7 version 2 approximately correlates to FHIR’s concept of “resources.” HL7 v2 segments, on the other hand, cannot be altered independently. FHIR, on the other hand, takes a different approach. 

Version 2 segments and data types are commonly cluttered with data components due to these variations in the priority and approach to expansion. As a result, they are not commonly used or even comprehended by implementations. 

  • Inter-version compatibility: 

Maintaining forward and backward compatibility with HL7 version 2 is a complicated operation. It can only add content at the end of fields, components, and other elements. Therefore, unexpected information or repeats are anticipated to be ignored by applications.

  • Defining profiles: 

HL7 v2 and FHIR have formal techniques for defining profiles that provide recommendations on using the specification. The HL7 v2 technique, on the other hand, has not been widely used.


HL7 standards provide a cost-effective approach to improving interoperability and healthcare delivery for healthcare organizations. Provide reliable data to healthcare providers to streamline care coordination. intelyConnect offers a no-code and low-code approach to healthcare data integration and interoperability.

intelyConnect helps you improve your healthcare approaches and other functionalities for better outcomes.


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