Introduction to HL7 and how to use it in LSM - LabCollector

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Introduction to HL7 and how to use it in LSM

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1. Introduction

  • 1a. What is HL7?
  • 1b. HL7 Message Types

2. How to use HL7 in LSM

1. Introduction

  • 1a. What is HL7?

HL7 is a set of standards for transferring clinical and administrative data between hospital information systems. It’s like a language that describes you, and your medical information, to all the Hospital information systems. And the best thing is that all the systems speak the same language. So when the HL7 message is received by other computer systems it can be unpackaged and understood, and these applications in return present your information to those that need it. HL7 is designed to work with every faucet of your care, including specialized software such as Digital Dictation, Laboratory Information systems, Radiology Information Systems, and Medical Imaging equipment.

This is an example of an HL7 message:





800101|Male||2028^White^CDCREC|^^city^ID^^USA||^PRN^PH^^^||en^English^ISO639|||||||2186-5^Not Hispanic or Latino^CDCREC


As you can see, it is a bit complicated to read at first. You can use a professional HL7 Message viewer and editor like HL7 Inspector ( to make reading it easier.


  • 1b. HL7 Message Types

All HL7 messages are divided up into Segments of related information, and these are always separated by a carriage return. Each of these segments are simply a separate line of the message.
The first segment in every HL7 Message is always the message header, a segment that conveys the metadata of the message like who sent it and when. The message header is indicated in the first three letters of the segment as MSH. In fact every segment has its own three letter header that identifies what the segment is about. Some common HL7 segments include:

  • PID: Patient Identification.
  • NK1: Contains information about the patients other related parties.
  • PV1: Details of the patients visit, such as doctors and dates.
  • SCH: Updating appointments in the hospitals schedule.
  • OBR: Repeatable segment that transmits information about an exam, diagnostic study/observation, or assessment that is specific to an order or result.

Into the HL7 message structure we find that segments are themselves divided up into fields. These are normally separated by a pipe character, each field have an assigned value type that relates to its position in the segment, so in this greatly simplified example PID segment we might find:

  • The Patients name is at PID-1
  • Their date of birth at PID-2
  • Details about where they live at PID-3.

Another feature of HL7 messaging is it allows some fields and components to be repeatable. For instance you might have two addresses; one for your home and another for your place of work. Well these can be done by repeating the field with a tilde character between each value.

You can find more information on each field and how they are arranged on the Caristix website (

2. How to use HL7 in LSM

First of all, you must integrate HL7 into LSM.

Go to LSM -> ADMIN -> Setup -> Integrations


Follow these steps :


  1. Click on HL7+
  2. Put enable on “Yes”
  3. Complete Protocol fields: Essential information that will be used to send the HL7 file, this is where you indicate that you can retrieve the HL7 file
  4. Laboratory information that will appear in the HL7 file
  5. Custom information you can add in HL7 file: Add {custom.xxxx} where xxxx is the property field name. This tag will return the information indicated in Value field in the HL7 file. You can add more custom information by clicking on the submit button
  6. Results template for HL7 file: There are a default template (cannot be modified) and a custom template which you can modify at will (remember to submit when you have finished)
  7. Click on Submit when you have finished completing all the fields

Now, HL7 is integrated in your LSM. You can generate HL7 file for a finished job from your Job list by clicking on the gear icon, then Report and Send to ‘Name given to your HL7 integration’.

If the report is correctly sent, there will be a popup in the top right corner.


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