For those who have been involved with the HL7 Standards over these past decade, there has been a slow evolution to expand the standards, change the approach (i.e., HL7 V2 to HL7 V3), and include clinical documentation. Healthcare integration initiatives are benefiting from the changes, but confusion rises as to the differences and the growing complexity.
One question that arises is: what is the difference between HL7 messages and HL7 documents? Outlined below is quick review of differences.
HL7 Messages: HL7 messaging is usually a real-time flow of patient and clinical information. They convey current information about a patient, including updates to admissions or discharges (ADT), orders for tests (ORM), and test results (ORU). The more current the data, the more relevant it is in the delivery of patient care. HL7 messaging impacts the ongoing process of delivering care by delivering the most current, updated patient information available.
HL7 Documents: HL7 documents are static – accurate given the point-in-time in which the information was captured. HL7 documents contain important information, but it is a snapshot. The documents are useful in providing relevant information in referrals to other physicians or healthcare organizations. Accordingly, it provides a starting point for the next step in patient care.
The differences in HL7 messages and HL7 documents can be summarized as active vs. passive information. HL7 messages are continuously delivered as status changes or new information is obtained. HL7 documents contain information at one specific point in time. Both are critical, however, especially when delivering connectivity or integration to Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications in various healthcare provider offices.
How do the healthcare standards apply? In HL7 messaging, HL7 V2.X and HL7 V3 apply. In HL7 documents, HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) and ASTM Continuity of Care Record (CCR) standards apply. Both approaches deliver value to healthcare integration initiatives.
Latest posts by Mike Stockemer (see all)
- Supporting CDA in Clinical Applications, Part 2: XML and HTML Rendering - March 8, 2011
- Supporting CDA in Clinical Applications, Part 1: Introduction - March 1, 2011
- Comparing HL7 Messages to HL7 Documents - January 25, 2008