HL7 Tutorial Part One: What Is HL7

A beginner's tutorial that explains the very basics of HL7®, and how it can be used. It is designed to help you place HL7 messaging into context, so you are ready for the more complex matter of working with HL7.

Continue to Part 2: Understanding HL7 Message Structure.

Video Transcript

HL7 Tutorial 1:

Hello and welcome to this first video in the series of HL7 Messaging tutorials where we look at that most fundamental of HL7 Questions:

What is HL7?

In this tutorial we'll be talking about the HL7 standards comprising of HL7 V2, HL7 V3, and FHIR. For infomation on the trademark HL7 then take a look at the HL7.org website.

Let’s imagine that you’ve injured yourself and need to visit the hospital. Upon your arrival you’re requested to fill out a form to provide your personal information. Details such as your name, date of birth, next of kin, allergies, and other personal information is all filled out on the form. You hand back this form to the staff, which then enter these details into the Hospital Information System or hiss.

After waiting a pleasantly short period of time you meet with a doctor. You discus your injuries, and are examined by her. After assessing your condition, she decides to order a series of x-rays, blood tests, and schedules in a future appointment. These are also entered into the HIS. This information is now needed by other medical staff and their computer systems so they can be prepared and able to continue the process of caring for your injuries.

This is where HL7 comes into the picture. HL7 is a set of standards for transferring clinical and administrative data between hospital information systems. It’s like a language that describes you, and your medical information, to all the Hospital information systems. And the best thing is that all the systems speak the same language. So when the HL7 message is received by other computer systems it can be unpackaged and understood, and these applications in turn present your information to those that need it.

HL7 is designed to work with every faucet of your care, including specialized software such as Digital Dictation, Laboratory Information systems, Radiology Information Systems, and Medical Imaging equipment.

So let’s take a look at an HL7 message and see how it’s built.

PID||0493575^^^2^ID 1|454721||DOE^JOHN^^^^|DOE^JOHN^^^^|19480203|M||B|254 E238ST^^Howick^OH^3252^USA||(216)631-4359|||M|AGN|400003403~1129086|999-|
PV1||O|O/R||||277^ALLEN^BONNIE^J^^^|||||||||| ||2688684|||||||||||||||||||||||||201407271408||||||002376853

Yes, I agree, if you haven’t seen an HL7 message before, this is pretty scary. Even if you work with this all the time, it isn’t exactly the easiest message to read – Let’s face it, it was created for machines to understand, not people.

That’s where a professional HL7 Message viewer and editor come in to play. In this tutorial series we’ll be using HL7 Soup, as it focuses on the human side of the message, highlighting just what is important and simplifying learning about HL7 Messaging. But it’s also because there is a 30 day free trial that you can download and install. This allows you to work at your own pace as you follow me through this tutorial.
Let me zoom in so we can look at this same message in detail. We can see right away that this message is one to Register a Patient. Further, we can see details about the patient that is being registering.

It’s Sam Brown, a 36 year old man who lives in the city of Howick.
And he was an outpatient two months ago where he was attended by Doctor Katrina Allen.

If you’d like to work through this tutorial series with me, then I encourage you to download the free 30 day trial of HL7 Soup from www.HL7Soup.com. You can then follow me with the same message examples that I’m using throughout this tutorial.

In the next lesson we’ll take a closer look at the hl7 message structure.

Download 30 Day Free Trial of HL7 Soup