HL7 fields, interoperability

I thought I’d quickly share a few of the lessons I’ve learned about parsing HL7 data.  I’m using the python hl7 parser by john paulett.

The first problem I had was with the line endings on my sample file. They must be in \r (carriage return only) for this parser to work.  This is in the hl7 standard, by the way.

hl7 may be a bit confounding at first glance, but it’s actually pretty straighforward once you know the data type labels. Here is a link that explains some of the fields and their names.

Hl7 is basically just a list of information vectors. Each of these vectors has a specific role. For example:  A PID vector  denotes patient identity information, while AL1 denotes a vector containing information about a patient allergy.

I have heard stories of vendors charging upwards fo $6,000 to implement different interfaces in their EMR… something that would take half a day. Atrocious.

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