Medical Healthcare Digitization: History of HL7 and FHIR Protocols, Essay Sample

Published: 2022-09-14
Medical Healthcare Digitization: History of HL7 and FHIR Protocols, Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Thesis
Categories:  Information technologies Healthcare
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1784 words
15 min read

Technological advancements have led to the digitization of medical records, an aspect that has led to efficiency in the medical field. One of the schemes developed is the health level 7, a body concerned with the creation of the protocols applied in the electronic medical records. From the analysis of its history, HL7 has developed from a simple protocol to a sophisticated health standard involved in the sharing of health information. HL7 has led to the creation of FHIR, a measure which has also been applied to achieve digitization of medical records. This standard has been adopted by healthcare schemes such as Apple healthcare which has incorporated technological aspects to provide high-quality healthcare. Gauging from its global acceptability, HL7 is tasked with creating uniform protocols for electronic medical records by using schemes such as fast interoperability healthcare resources to revolutionize the sharing of health information.

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Global Make-Up

One of the forms of medical records digitization is the health level-7 which is the international standards used in the transfer of administrative and clinical data between applications used by medical practitioners (Viangteeravat, Anyanwu, Nagisetty, Kuscu, Sakauye, & Wu, 2011). It is geared towards achieving an organization for a complex framework and standards for integration, exchange, retrieval and sharing of health information to enhance the evaluation, delivery, and the management of medical services. Initially, the HL7 was termed as an American concept and was not recognized globally, a factor which slowed its adoption. After some time, countries saw it as an opportunity to eradicate the challenges faced in their medical fields. For example, the UK was the first country to gain knowledge of HL7 after successful meetings held to demonstrate the efficiency of the system when used in the healthcare field. Germany followed in the adoption of HL7 in its quest to achieve a strategy for managing healthcare management systems (Blobel, & Giacomini, 2016). HL7 Netherlands was then developed after the country signed the agreement on adopting the system in its medical systems. After the adoption of HL7 by these countries, the use of HL7 has spread to the rest of Europe, Asia, and South America.

History of HL7

Its origin is dated back in 1987, where it was founded to achieve a standard procedure for data exchange in information systems for hospitals. Donald Simborg developed the health level seven organization aiming for broad use of the StatLAN protocol, an exchange protocol which existed at that time (Vinay & Prabadevi, 2017). Simborg systems company decided to dispose of the statLAN to achieve commercial success by introducing a healthcare protocol that was non-proprietary. However, HL7 was viewed as property for Simborg systems due to its unavailability as the company controlled the system. In 1988, HL7 was subjected to demonstrations by the American hospital association. The factors tested include the connectivity and functionality displayed by each interface and also the aspect of integration exhibited by the system. Also, the demonstration majored on laboratory, pharmacy, ADT, accounting and radiology.

Compared with the previous methods, HL7 was preferred due to its economical nature as most of the health facilities adopted the policy to minimize the costs spent when distributing information between various departments. Other existing systems such as the HBO, SMS, Technicon data systems and health data sciences joined HL7 for fear of the stiff competition it brought in the market. After the merging scheme, the HL7 version 1 was developed, and it was applied to proof implementation of concepts and defining the structure and content of this standard. In 1987, the stakeholders met to standardize HL7 to include patient counts, an arrangement for transmission control, query, order entry, admission, transfer, and discharge. However, this version did not consider the system to account for the patients although it was an essential aspect in the healthcare. Billing transactions were introduced in 1988 in version 2 of HL7, but it only permitted the implementation of standard demonstration. Subsequently, version 2.1, an upgrade of version 2 was released, and it featured the reporting of laboratory results. Later in 1992, the HL7 merged with ASTM to achieve a vast scope as ASTM dealt with reporting and ordering healthcare observations. Such processes and structures contributed to the current HL7 and are still maintained up to date.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources

FHIR has also been adopted globally with countries taking technological strides in medical processes. FHIR refer to the standard used in the description data elements and formats, and even an interface for application programming used for transferring electronic medical records (Boussadi & Zapletal, 2017). Just like the USA, European countries have shown a profound interest in the use of FHIR concepts to further the current standards (Blobel & Giacomini, 2016). For example, the Netherlands has come up with projects geared towards improving access to health records. However, the European countries use different policies, guides and standards compared to the USA. European countries use guides such as the v3 and professional record standards body while the USA has adopted the consolidated clinical document architecture. Moreover, different countries use different criteria for FHIR with some majoring on data access while others are capitalizing on patient access.

History of FHIR

The development of FHIR was conceptualized in 2011 after the failure of HL7 v2 and HL7 V3 which was the most used standard (Mandel, Kreda, Mandi, Kohane & Ramoni, 2016). Although HL7 v2 achieved flexibility, it displayed the inability to transmit standardized information. Also, the messages required re-engineering schemes even when in the process of transmission. Adopting the HL7 v3 solved the problems faced by the previous version, but it was associated with fresh challenges. Claims raised termed the HL7 V3 as having failed to achieve interoperability, an aspect concerned with the nature of information to be disseminated and received between two systems and the time when such information exchange occurred. Besides, this standard become expensive contrary to the initial intentions guiding HL7 to develop a cheap solution. Such drawbacks tainted the image of HL7, necessitating the development of another version. In 2011, its proposal was presented, and surprisingly it was well received in the medical field.

Apple Health and FHIR

Due to their wide acceptability, FHIR standards have been adopted by apple health in their efforts of using technological advancements to boost healthcare services. Apple company acknowledges that best healthcare can only be achieved through the use of powerful equipment. Its success has been raised by the fact that Apple company deals with gadgets such as phones which acts as a medium for accessing health information.

Features of Apple Health

One of the features of Apple health is the efficiency in healthcare which leads to improved services. For example, the applications fitted in the Apple products aid in easy retrieval of health records when needed (Pfiffner, Pinyol, Natter, & Mandl, 2016). It should be noted that most of the patients have chronic health conditions which lead to re-admissions in the same hospitals or referrals to other hospitals. Medical practitioners should be aware of the previous medications used by the patients to establish the causal factor for the readmissions. Such actions are only applicable in the presence of a robust system which keeps the patient records in a way that they can be retrieved quickly. In its quest to achieve easy retrieval of data, the apple health has adopted the FHIR which enables medical practitioners to import medical records from one healthcare provider. Before medication is administered to the patient, the previous health records are easily retrieved to provide an overview of the health condition, leading to the administration of the right medication.

Another feature is the data ownership where patients are granted the rights to access data concerning their health. After the introduction of the concept of meaningful use, the advocates of patient rights have expressed their concerns to the government concerning the inaccessibility of health information (Greene, Tuzzio & Cherkin, 2012). In their arguments, they have requested the government to instruct healthcare providers to avail personal health information. Although most of the healthcare facilities have come up with patient portals, the data from such a portal is limited to appointment requests, lab results or after communication with healthcare practitioners. However, Apple has developed a scheme in conjunction with FHIR where patients can access their health information. Patients can now view the information concerning their health by accessing the personal health information data found in the electronic health records through FHIR.

Also, Apple health has introduced the element of integration and interoperability in the healthcare system after adopting FHIR in their healthcare plan (Arriba-Perez, Caeiro-Rodriguez & Santos-Gago, 2016). Although most of the healthcare facilities have to start using the EHR data, the systems cannot retrieve data from FHIR and transfer it to FHIR. Also, most of the patients have multiple healthcare providers that use different systems. When solving such issues, the apple health has eliminated the need for registering in numerous information avenues by hinting on developing a single application. This app will serve as an integration scheme to allow data transfer. Patients will be in a position to view their health information from various medical practitioners via wearables or phones. Only compliance hitches have been experienced, and this app will soon unlock such features and individuals will view their health information from various doctors from one system.

With the adoption of the FHIR, the Apple health has achieved a user perspective whereby users are not subjected to complex processes in the event of accessing their health information (Pfiffner, Pinyol, Natter & Mandl, 2016). For example, the users have expressed the simple process required during app authentication. Users are only required to enter their credentials as offered by their physicians, upon which the system avails the health information as recorded by EHR. Collaborating with the FHIR has led to the standardization of the data structure where users access the required data with ease. Although the application only displays the information from the last medical visit, there is a possibility that more data will be captured in the future after further app development. With such options, more users will enroll in this scheme, an aspect that will increase the awareness of health conditions among individuals. Patients will be in a position to track their progress and adopt better health practices leading to improved health.

Elements of HL7

From the analysis, HL7 contains core elements and principles which are observed to achieve efficient healthcare. One of such elements is the aspect of internalization where the main standard should support the local variants currently being utilized by the other affiliates of HL7. In this scenario, affiliates should be in a position to utilize the messages which have been developed by the HL7 organization. It should be noted that there are various standards such as FHIR which are also used to pass health information whereby the latest versions use XML schemes to encode messages.

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Medical Healthcare Digitization: History of HL7 and FHIR Protocols, Essay Sample. (2022, Sep 14). Retrieved from

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