What is HL7 (Health Level Seven International)?

The healthcare industry is witnessing rapid development in the use of technology for information exchange and improving medical care. In this context, the HL7 (Health Level Seven) standard plays a vital role in facilitating the exchange of health data between systems and healthcare institutions. HL7 is considered a technical communication language that facilitates communication and interaction between different health information systems, leading to improved efficiency of care and the quality of healthcare services provided to patients. In this article, we will explore in detail the concept of HL7, its importance, and how it is applied in the modern healthcare environment.

In the era of modern technology and digitalization, healthcare is one of the sectors that benefits greatly from recent advancements. Medical data and information are widely distributed across multiple systems, making the main challenge how to organize and exchange this information securely and efficiently. This is where the importance of the HL7 (Health Level Seven) standard comes in, as it facilitates communication and data exchange between different healthcare systems, whether within medical institutions or between them. HL7 serves as a technical communication language that enables interoperability between exchanged medical data, contributing to improving the quality of healthcare services and providing exceptional care to patients. In this context, this article provides a comprehensive understanding of the HL7 concept, its strategic importance in the global healthcare arena, as well as a review of its practical applications and future development prospects that may open new horizons in transforming the healthcare sector for the better.

The History and Evolution of HL7 (Health Level Seven)

The HL7 (Health Level Seven) standard dates back to the early 1980s when a group of healthcare professionals started communicating and exchanging information between different healthcare systems. Initially, there were many difficulties in data exchange between these systems due to differences in formats and protocols used. To achieve compatibility and simplify the data exchange process, the HL7 group evolved and developed unified standards and protocols for exchanging health information.

Since then, the HL7 standard has experienced continuous evolution, with improvements and an expanded scope of applications covering a wide range of healthcare services and information. Thanks to the active HL7 community, standards are regularly reviewed and updated to meet the needs of modern healthcare and emerging technical challenges.

Today, HL7 is considered a fundamental platform for exchanging health data globally, widely used in Health Information Systems (HIS), Electronic Medical Records (EMR), and other applications aimed at improving care quality and streamlining healthcare processes.

Objectives and Goals of HL7 (Health Level Seven)

HL7 aims to achieve objectives and goals that focus on standardizing formats and facilitating interoperability between health data, contributing to enhancing interaction and integration between healthcare systems, and enhancing the security and privacy of exchanged health data.

  • Standardizing Formats: HL7 aims to standardize formats and standards used in exchanging health data, facilitating communication between different healthcare systems and increasing the effectiveness of information exchange.
  • Facilitating Interoperability: The HL7 standard seeks to facilitate interoperability processes between exchanged health data, ensuring accuracy and consistency of information and improving healthcare quality.
  • Improving Interactivity: By defining and standardizing protocols, HL7 aims to improve interactivity between healthcare systems, facilitating data exchange processes and interaction between them smoothly.
  • Providing Flexibility and Integration: HL7 aims to provide flexibility and integration in data exchange processes, enabling healthcare institutions to better adapt systems and applications according to their individual needs.
  • Enhancing Security and Privacy: Security and privacy are key priorities for the HL7 standard, contributing to the development and implementation of protocols and methods to ensure confidentiality and protection of exchanged health data.

In summary, HL7 aims to standardize formats, facilitate interoperability and interaction between healthcare systems, enhance their flexibility and data security, to improve healthcare quality and facilitate information exchange in this important sector.

Structure of HL7 (Health Level Seven)

  1. Physical Layer: This layer includes technical details for data delivery, such as cable types and technologies used in actual communications.
  2. Data Link Layer: It ensures seamless and reliable communication between devices, verifying data integrity and correcting errors when needed.
  3. Network Layer: Manages routing and switching operations for data across networks, facilitating data transfer between different devices in healthcare environments.
  4. Session Layer: Manages communication sessions between devices, facilitating the establishment and management of long-term, multi-party communications.
  5. Presentation Layer: Converts and encodes data in a format that is understandable and usable between different systems, specifying appropriate formats for data display.
  6. Application Layer: Includes a set of protocols and services used for exchanging health data and executing specific operations, such as querying medical databases and updating electronic medical records.

The structure of HL7 is represented by these layered components that work together to provide an integrated and coordinated framework for exchanging health data between systems and medical institutions, making it a strong and efficient platform in modern healthcare environments.

Benefits of Using HL7 (Health Level Seven)

In the era of digitization and technological advancement in healthcare, exchanging health information between systems and medical institutions poses a major challenge that requires effective and standardized solutions. This is where the HL7 (Health Level Seven) standard comes into play to contribute to achieving these solutions and enhancing the quality of healthcare services provided to patients. Through this element, we will explore a range of benefits provided by using HL7 in the healthcare environment, making it indispensable in the development and improvement of medical processes and communication between different medical systems.

  • Improved Data Exchange: HL7 helps improve data exchange processes between different healthcare systems, increasing the efficiency of communication and interaction between them.
  • Increased Data Accuracy: Thanks to the use of the HL7 standard, the accuracy and consistency of exchanged health data are ensured, contributing to improving healthcare quality and making quick and accurate decisions.
  • Time and Effort Savings: Using HL7 facilitates the transfer of health data quickly and reliably, saving the time and effort required to complete medical processes.
  • Enhanced Healthcare Quality: By using HL7, the quality of healthcare services provided to patients is improved by facilitating the exchange of vital medical information and achieving interoperability between medical systems.
  • Increased Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: Using the HL7 standard contributes to increased efficiency in healthcare processes and reduces costs resulting from human error or ineffective communication between systems.
  • Enhanced Security and Privacy: HL7 provides a secure and protected environment for exchanging health data, ensuring the confidentiality and protection of sensitive patient and healthcare institution data.

Using HL7 is a significant step in improving healthcare processes and enhancing care quality, contributing to achieving strategic goals for the healthcare sector globally.

Applications of HL7 (Health Level Seven)

HL7 applications are a vital part of the modern healthcare framework, as they facilitate the exchange of health information between systems and medical institutions efficiently and uniformly. The HL7 standard is used in a wide range of applications aimed at improving medical processes and facilitating communication among medical teams and healthcare facilities. Through this element, we will take a look at some key applications of the HL7 standard and its positive impact on healthcare quality and overall performance in the medical field.

  • Health Information Systems (HIS):

The HL7 standard is used in Health Information Systems to exchange data between different units and departments in hospitals and medical centers, helping to organize administrative and clinical operations.

  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR):

HL7 is used in exchanging data between Electronic Medical Records, facilitating tracking patient history, test results, and treatments across time and different departments.

  • Medical Record Updates and Reports:

The HL7 standard is used in updating medical records and issuing medical reports, contributing to the exchange of vital medical information between doctors and medical facilities.

  • Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS):

HL7 helps in data exchange between Picture Archiving and Communication Systems for storing and displaying radiological and diagnostic medical images.

  • Health Reports and Statistics Systems:

HL7 is used in exchanging data related to health reports and statistics, facilitating the production of accurate medical reports and statistics.

  • Medication and Medical Supplies Tracking Applications:

HL7 facilitates data exchange between medication and medical supplies tracking applications, helping to ensure the availability of necessary medications and medical supplies in a timely manner.

These applications are just examples of HL7 standard uses in the healthcare environment, where it facilitates data exchange and improves medical and administrative processes to achieve better quality in healthcare provided to patients.

Challenges and Future of HL7 (Health Level Seven)

The HL7 standard (Health Level Seven) is considered a fundamental cornerstone in the modern healthcare structure. However, it faces ongoing challenges related to standards compatibility, data security, and system integration. In this context, this piece sheds light on the current and future challenges facing HL7 and how it shapes a promising future in healthcare.

  • Standards Compatibility: Challenges in HL7 revolve around standards and protocol compatibility with modern healthcare systems. This requires regular reviews and continuous updates to ensure compatibility and safety in health data exchange.
  • Data Security: Data security and maintaining its privacy are major challenges, requiring the development and adoption of strong security protocols and standards to protect health data from electronic threats.
  • System Integration: The future of HL7 requires improvements in integrating various medical systems and exchanging data between them consistently and effectively, necessitating continuous efforts in development and updates.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Analytics: Leveraging modern technologies like artificial intelligence and analytics poses a future challenge, as these technologies can contribute to improving medical data analysis and making medical decisions more accurate and effective.
  • Compliance with Global Health Standards: Global challenges such as compliance with international health standards like FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) present future challenges that require cooperation and coordination with international health institutions.

With these challenges, the future of HL7 looks towards continuous evolution and improvement through adopting modern technologies, developing protocols, and standards to ensure secure and effective health data exchange, and enhancing healthcare quality.


With the increasing reliance on technology in healthcare, the HL7 standard (Health Level Seven) emerges as a fundamental tool that contributes to improving the quality of medical services and facilitating information exchange between different medical systems. While HL7 faces challenges in areas such as compatibility and data security, it still has a promising future that looks forward to harnessing modern technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics to achieve tangible advancements in the healthcare world. Through continued development and improvement, HL7 will remain a vital element in achieving strategic healthcare goals and enhancing the experience for both patients and providers alike.