HL7 messages transmit data between disparate systems. An HL7 message consists of a group of segments in a defined sequence, with these segments or groups of segments being optional, required, and/or repeatable (referred to as HL7 cardinality).
The HL7 message type defines the purpose for the message being sent and is present in every HL7 message. Message types are identified by a three-character code and are used in conjunction with a trigger event. An HL7 trigger event is a real-world event that initiates communication and the sending of a message and is shown as part of the message type. Both the message type and trigger event are found in the MSH-9 field of the message.
For example, the MSH-9 field might contain the value ADT-A01. This means that ADT is the HL7 message type, and A01 is the trigger event. In the HL7 Standard, an ADT-A01 message is known as a “patient admit” message.
Each message type and trigger event within a specific HL7 version has a defined format. There are some message types and triggers that have the exact same format, such as ADT-A01, ADT-A04, ADT-A05 and ADT-A08. But in many cases, the formats vary widely.
Defining an HL7 Message (examples)
Most commonly used HL7 message types include:
- ACK – General acknowledgement
- ADT – Admit, Discharge, Transfer
- BAR – Add/change billing account
- DFT – Detailed financial transaction
- MDM – Medical document management
- MFN – Master files notification
- ORM – Order (Pharmacy/treatment)
- ORU – Observation result (unsolicited)
- QRY – Query, original mode
- RAS – Pharmacy/treatment administration
- RDE – Pharmacy/treatment encoded order
- RGV – Pharmacy/treatment give
- SIU – Scheduling information unsolicited
For a full list of all HL7 message types, refer to Appendix A of the HL7 V2 Standard.
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