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Health Level 7
Health Level 7 (HL7) is an international standard
for data exchange between computer systems in healthcare. It
provides interoperability between electronic Patient Administration
Systems (PAS), Electronic Practice Management (EPM) systems,
Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), Dietary, Pharmacy and
Billing systems as well as Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or
Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.
HL7 is used as a term both for the organisations
involved in developing and supporting the healthcare standards
as well as for the Version 2.x and Version 3 sets of standards
and other standards developed by the HL7 local organisations
in 30 countries. HL7 creates international standards for inter-system
and inter-organisation messaging, for decision support, clinical
text document mark-up, user interface integration as well as
a health data model and message development methodology. HL7
is a not-for-profit, open, democratic and consensus-based organisation.
A frequent misconception about HL7 is that
it develops software. In reality, HL7 develops specifications,
the most widely known being a messaging standard (HL7 V2.x)
that enables disparate healthcare applications to exchange clinical
and administrative data.
Members of HL7 are known collectively as the
Working Group, which is organized into Technical Committees
and Special Interest Groups. The Technical Committees (TCs)
are directly responsible for the content of the Standards. Special
Interest Groups (SIGs) serve as a test bed for exploring new
areas that may need coverage in HL7's published standards. A
list of the technical committees and special interest groups
as well as their missions, scopes and current leadership is
available on the HL7.org web site.
The HL7 standards can be implemented free-of-charge;
there are no development or run-time licenses or fees. However,
the not-for-profit HL7 organisation is always grateful for volunteer
or financial support. Although distributions of the current
HL7 standards attract a small fee, previous versions of the
HL7 V2.x standards are freely available.
HL7 is not "plug and play". One may
find HL7 transport layers (e.g. MLLP) and HL7 message and segment
parsers, but using HL7 messages, segments, and fields is application-specific,
and is left to the application programmer to implement.