HL7 Message Transport

As discussed in another article (see here) when designing your HL7 interface always consider HL7 Message Transport from HL7 Message Processing separately. In the simplest terms HL7 Message Transport is how you answer the question: How do my HL7 messages get from point A to point B? If I am receiving HL7 messages how are they delivered to me? If I am sending HL7 messages how do I deliver them to my trading partner?

HL7WhiteboardInterface Whiteboard

Referring to our whiteboard above we can see that there are several different options for message transport but there is something important to keep in mind. 


In order for your HL7 Interface to be considered truly "HL7 Compatible" then you MUST support at least these 2 methods of transport: 

  • 1) File Drop. This means that your interface MUST be able to consume HL7 messages in data files placed into a folder (if receiving) and write HL7 messages into a folder (if sending). 
  • #
  • 2) TCP/IP. This means that your interface MUST be able to send and/or receive HL7 messages using the "HL7 Standard" TCP/IP MLLP protocols.

Our recommendation is that you only concern yourself with #1 (File Drop). If your HL7 interface can easily handle importing and/or exporting HL7 messages from the file system then you can free yourself up to concentrate more on message processing. If you need to import HL7 messages your starting point is always a folder on the file system. If you need to export HL7 messages your ending point is always a folder on the file system.

 If your interface can do this then you can easily handle ALL methods of message transport. TCP/IP for example you can use our UltraPort HL7 Listener (for receiving) and our UltraPort HL7 Router (for sending). For FTP or SFTP you just create scheduled FTP scripts to push or pull HL7 message files to/from a folder. For HTTPS you simply have your web service read HL7 messages from or write HL7 messages to a folder.

 Since your interface uses the file system you don't really concern yourself with HOW the messages you consume get into the folder. Likewise you don't really care WHAT HAPPENS to HL7 messages that you create and write out to a folder, you just assume that another process is going to pick them up from there.


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