Common Data Formats

Common Data Formats

The most common data formats when it comes to healthcare data and its exchange are

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - X12N
  • Health Level 7 (HL7)
  • Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR)

Data Formats EDI (X12N)

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a method that enables businesses to transfer information to one another electronically rather than on paper. It is the electronic interchange of information using a defined format.
  • Organizations benefit from using EDI by having faster information turnaround times, more secure data exchanges, and no longer having to wait for claims to be processed.
  • The X12 standard is maintained by the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • The X12 standard transaction sets cover a wide range of industries and business functions, including the exchange of healthcare data.
  • Using established communication formats and standards, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in healthcare is a secure method of transferring data between healthcare organizations, insurers, and patients.
  • Implementing EDI can address issues such as errors in data conversion, poor interoperability, high IT costs and security gaps and issues. It also makes sure that data transmission and interpretation are swift and easy in between software systems.
  • Entities that exchange health information electronically today (eg. health plans, insurance companies, clearing houses, and health care providers) must use a uniform standard for all EDI healthcare transactions, in accordance with HIPAA EDI rules.

Data Formats HL7

  • Health Level 7 (HL7) is a set of standards for clinical and administrative data transfer between software applications used by different healthcare providers.
  • HL7 is not a software application, but provides specifications to healthcare organizations in order to make their systems interoperable.
  • These standards focus on the application layer (layer 7) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, hence the name Health Level 7.
  • HL7 standards facilitate the messaging in communication between two independent software systems.
  • HL7 provides standards for the exchange, integration and management of data that supports patient care and the management, delivery and evaluation of healthcare services.
  • It provides standards for interoperability that
    1. improves care delivery
    2. optimizes workflows
    3. reduce ambiguity
    4. enhance knowledge transfer among stakeholders.
  • HL7 standards also help healthcare organizations reduce healthcare costs by avoiding duplicate services, streamline processes, lower development costs of solutions driving automation and ultimately improve patient care.
  • HL7 aims to provide secure access to healthcare data for everyone to use when and where they need it.
  • HL7 aims to provide a framework and standards that empower global health data interoperability.

    Data Formats FHIR

    • FHIR is an acronym for Fast Health Interoperable Resources and is pronounced as ‘Fire.’
    • It is a data representation standards framework created by Health Level Seven (HL7), combining the best features of HL7’s Version 2, Version 3 and the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA).
    • FHIR solutions are built from a set of modular components called ‘Resources,’ that can be assembled into systems which solve real world problems.
    • FHIR is suitable for use in a wide range of contexts such as:
      1. Mobile apps
      2. Cloud communications
      3. EHR based data sharing
      4. Server based communications in large institutional healthcare service providers, etc
    • The exchange of Resources between systems can be
      1. Using RESTful APIs
      2. As a bundle of resources like messages and documents.

      Electronic Health Records EHR

      • Electronic Health Records (EHR) are digitized versions of patient health information.
      • EHRs are used in order to share information with healthcare providers, laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities along with school and workplace clinics.
      • EHRs contain information about a patient’s health along with the information from clinicians involved in the patient’s care, from all or multiple doctors and/or providers involved in the patient’s diagnosis.
      • EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to all authorized users.
      • EHRs contain information such as a patient’s medical history, diagnosis, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and images, laboratory and test results.
      • An EHR system is designed to go beyond the typical clinical data collected in a provider’s office and can be inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care, even though it does contain the medical and treatment histories of patients.
      • One key feature of an EHR is the ability of authorized clinicians to create and manage health information in a digital format that can be shared with other physicians across multiple health care organizations.