What is HL7?

Health Level Seven (HL7) is the globally leading healthcare interoperability standard. Founded in 1987, it comprehensively covers all areas of clinical information exchange.

Just as people from different countries with completely different native tongues are only able to communicate with each other if they can speak a common language, computer applications can only share information if they communicate with a common protocol. For people or computers to be able to share clinical data with one another, they must both:
  1. Have functions to be able to physically communicate, e.g. speak & hear, send and receive documents and data files, share data and information. (This is called "functional interoperability")
  2. speak a common language (in terms of nouns, verbs, grammatical structure, etc.) and share the same vocabulary that allows them to understand complex medical conditions and processes. (This is called "semantic interoperability")

Who created HL7?
A group of healthcare computer systems users started developing the HL7 protocol to create that common "language" that allows healthcare applications to share clinical data with each another. Over time the HL7 interoperability protocol became a nationally, internationally and globally accredited standard.

Who is HL7?
Health Level Seven International is the global authority for healthcare information interoperability standards. HL7 is a non-profit accredited standards development organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive standards framework for the exchange, integration, sharing and retrieval of electronic health information.
With affiliates in more than 35 countries and over 6,000 members, HL7 encompasses >90% of the healthcare information systems community.

Learn about HL7

Go here for an Introduction to HL7. Look here for the web's the most comprehensive Directory of HL7 Tools and Resources. There are also comprehensive Digital Health Education programs, HL7 Implementation Courses, HL7 Certification as well as HL7 Tools News, HL7 Videos and an HL7 Tools & Resources Blog. Other relevant topics are TOGAF in Healthcare, Writing Safe Healthcare Application Software and Implementing Social Media in Healthcare Organisations
The term "Health Level 7" ("HL7") is used 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 themselves 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.

A frequent misconception about Health Level Seven is that it develops software. HL7 develops specifications, the most widely known being a messaging standard that enables disparate healthcare applications to exchange clinical and administrative data.

Australia was delighted to welcome the e-health standards world to the HL7 Working Meeting Sydney in January 2011 - it was an exciting and productive meeting. We all made the Sydney WGM a success - both by attendance and the financial outcome for HL7 International.

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