ACI Quarterly Newsletter


​​​HL7 or DICOM Interfaces

If you already own any kind of patient management system or electronic health record, you are likely to have one or more interfaces between the primary system and your secondary systems, or vendor systems outside your organization.  ADT, Charge, Lab and Billing interfaces use Health-Level 7 (HL7) coding to exchange information, which is a text-based series of rows of data, with fields and subfields within each row, separated by special characters defined by the HL7 standard. Digital radiography systems and imaging modalities exchange studies in DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication) format, which combines text-based coding (attributes) as a header with each image, for identification, classification and command parsing by the receiving system. 

HL7 standards define how clinical data elements are expected to be translated and exchanged between clinical information systems.  While vendors may state they provide standard HL7 interfaces, the reality is each vendor product requires an item-by-item translation of how each data element is pulled from their database and packaged for transmission in "standard" format, and knowledge of that process is often necessary for translation of that message on the receiving end.  Some of this custom translation work may even be facility- or site-specific.  Most important to understand, HL7 interfaces require daily monitoring to catch and correct errors so the flow of clinical information does not get interrupted.

At the customer level, the DICOM standard is far more detailed (and therefore standardized) across vendor products, so the main effort in linking DICOM devices is in establishing secure connectivity and following proper naming conventions on the DICOM stations. Thus, DICOM interfaces are generally faster and less expensive to set up.

ACI has the expertise to configure and manage interfaces for you, whether they are new installs, troubleshooting on existing interfaces, or even on-going monitoring of interface error logs.