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Health Level Seven (HL7)
Health Level Seven (HL7) is a American National Standards Institute accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) operating in the healthcare arena. Since its inception, HL7 has specified standards for a large number of application areas. HL7 standards cover generic application fields such as patient administration, patient care, order entry, results reporting, document and financial management. In addition to that, HL7 addresses the departmental information system communication needs of clinical specialties like laboratory medicine and diagnostic imaging.
HL7 standards are used to communicate data between applications within a healthcare organization, as well as across multiple healthcare organizations. Data can be conveyed by messages, CDA (Clinical Document Architecture) documents or web services. Additionally, HL7 owns standards for context sharing (CCOW), sharing of clinical knowledge (Arden Syntax) and functional model requirements for electronic as well as personal health records (EHR/PHR). HL7 standards have gained acceptance internationally with a growing number of HL7 international affiliate member organizations promoting the standard and working on national adaptation strategies.
Relevant HL7 standards for integrating clinical and imaging information systems - including Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) - are HL7 Version 2 order and results messages. Imaging results may also be conveyed as structured CDA documents. Applications can be synchronized and visually integrated by using the HL7 CCOW (Clinical Context Object Workgroup) standard.
The HL7 Conformance Statements specify the details about the implementation of HL7 standards for specific products.