Modern healthcare programs are used worldwide to facilitate the process of information storage and transmission. The majority of hospitals use such programs to ensure the fast exchange of information, especially in emergency cases. One such technology is Health Level Seven (HL7), a standard series of predefined logical formats for packaging medical data in the form of messages transmitted between computer systems (“HL7 Vocabulary,” 2013). Hence, this paper aims to describe value sets, code systems, and data types within Health Level Seven 2. x.
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A value set is a list of specific meanings, terms, and codes utilized in different areas to describe clinical or administrative implications in quality indicators. They provide clusters of unique values with standard definitions, instructions, or descriptions from conventional glossaries used for differentiating the same concept. SNOMED CT, RxNORM, and LOINC are among the standardized vocabularies used for decoding meanings and ideas. For instance, a value set can describe a clinical concept as diabetes within quality measures.
In Health Level Seven (HL7) 2. x version, numerous value sets, approximately 1,800, stand for medical and clinical terms. An information block describing a set of values begins with the set of values, followed by a value enclosed in square brackets. For instance, marital status [2.16.840.1.1138126.96.36.19912] or Ethnicity [2.16.840.1.1138188.8.131.5236] (“HL7 Vocabulary,” 2013). Below these sets are a description of the concept chosen and a table with content type, code system, reference, and qualifiers/identifiers.
Coding is the representation of information in an alternative form. Code systems (or simply codes) are similar to ciphers with single-digit substitution, in which the code designations correspond to the elements of the encoded information (“HL7 Vocabulary,” 2013). The difference is that ciphers have a variable part (key), which can produce different ciphertexts for a particular source message with the same encryption algorithm. There is no variable part in code systems; therefore, the same source message when encoding, as a rule, always looks the same.
Another distinctive feature of coding is the use of code designations (substitutions) exclusively for words, phrases, or numbers (sets of digits). The encoded information elements can be letters, comments, terms of natural language, various symbols, such as punctuation marks, arithmetic and logical operations, comparison operators, and others. Code designations can be letters and combinations of natural language letters, numbers, graphic designations, electromagnetic pulses, light, and sound signals. In HL7, there are numerous codes, for instance, HI, which stands for health outcomes, or ICDO, which represents the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology.
A data type is a class characterized by class members and the operations that can be applied to them. Numbers are the primary data type, which includes floating-point numbers and integers. Such data are called interval data since the concept of an interval on a numeric line applies to them. Strings are also another vital data kind that arranges a sequence of characters. The logical type represents boolean values that answer the question of truth or falsity. Floating data represents numeric values that may not be integers – this type is most common in HL7 since points separate the numbers.
In summary, HL7 is a system for information transmission between computers in healthcare settings which helps boost the working process. This software has value sets representing the main concepts with descriptions. Additionally, it involves code systems for ciphering the widely used data in the medical facility. The most common data type in HL7 is floating numbers since many concepts are codified as numbers separated by dots.
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HL7 Vocabulary. (2013). HL7. Web.