Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Electronic health records, HL7, and XML data mapping

The recent appointment of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary for Health and Human Services yesterday marks another important step in President Obama's drive for health-care reform. As the President has stated numerous times, including during his recent Address to Joint Session of Congress, his goals for health-care reform very clearly include electronic health records:

"Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives."

In essence, electronic health records directly translates to the HL7 family of standards and it is, therefore, important for software developers to be able to integrate HL7 data in their applications swiftly and efficiently. No other tool makes this easier to accomplish and more affordable to do than Altova MapForce.

MapForce is a data mapping and conversion tool that now supports HL7 v2.x EDI standards as well as the new HL7 v3.x XML-based standards and allows a developer to easily map data between HL7 and various other data sources, including relational databases, XML, web services, and even plain text files from legacy systems. Specifically, MapForce makes it easy to map data from an HL7 electronic health record into an in-house relational database.

Specifically, you can now download the MapForce HL7 Installer, which is free for all licensed MapForce customers, and includes all HL7 EDI message formats in various versions so that you can pick and choose the exact transaction and message structure for electronic health records that you need to implement in your organization:

And the best thing about MapForce: once a mapping between any HL7 message and your internal data structures and/or datbases is defined visually in the intuitive user interface, MapForce will auto-generate all the necessary program code in Java or C# that implements this data mapping, so that this code can be integrated into your in-house applications with ease. By doing that, MapForce eliminates the need to write hundreds or thousands of lines of infra-structure code that would otherwise be cumbersome to write, error-prone, and a nightmare to debug.

Using MapForce to auto-generate that data integration code can result in huge cost-savings and improved efficiency, which is critical in today's tough economic environment!

In addition to HL7, MapForce does, of course, also support the ANSI X12 transactions required for HIPAA compliance, so it can be used for all aspects of electronic health-care reform.

For more information, see also this article on HL7 Data Integration on the official Altova Blog.

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