Health Information Exchange Standards

Electronic health information exchange (HIE) is growing in use in the medical sector. It allows health care providers and patients to securely and appropriately access and shares critical patient medical information. It improves the safety, speed, quality, efficiency, and cost of patient care. Over time, more and more standards, such as the Health Level 7(HL7), fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR), and logical observation identifiers names and codes (LOINC), appear and help to improve the HIE.

Health Level Seven is a standard for the exchange of information between medical applications. It is arguably the standard implemented widely in the healthcare world, with both its versions two and three being tailored to support a central patient care system. It contains data on admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT), detailed financial transactions (DFT), general acknowledgment, treatment administration, and even queries on medication [2]. These messages are divided into segments separated by a carriage return. The messages are exchanged through the TCP/IP protocol, allowing for the transfer of a continuous stream of messages without confusing any of them [1].

Therefore, when it comes to exchanging health information, this messaging standard is primarily essential because it provides a cost-effective and standardized data exchange system that simplifies the healthcare process, allowing for faster diagnoses and treatment of the condition. Moreover, it assists in creating electronic health records that enable healthcare providers to tend to patients easily and even collaborate in severe cases [2]. Additionally, the standard allows for ease of referrals from one hospital to the next in case of specialized care. With this upgraded way of connection, patients with this disorder can get the best from the hospitals.

There is also the fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR) standard which describes data elements and formats and is an application programming interface (API) for electronic health records (EHR) exchange. It is essential in this process because it increasingly enables clinicians to share data, allowing them to enhance patient safety and care delivery [2]. A particular resource can be transferred without the entire clinical record, which speeds up information exchange. Therefore, patients can have care tailored to meet their needs as it reduces the attention caregivers have on their administrative duties [1]. Moreover, the patients can take charge of their treatment to ensure seamless care, which lessens or even eliminates certain costs. This pits it as an essential exchange standard for patients with this disorder.

Furthermore, there are terminological standards such as logical observations, identifiers, names, and Codes (LOINC). This standard deals with the assignment of names to observations and clinical measures. The standard ensures that patients experience reduced lab test duplication incidences, including a straightforward assessment of their condition [2]. Moreover, it enhances the aggregation and exchange of clinical results for proper and safe care and the management of disease symptoms. Furthermore, clinicians can order tests electronically from multiple laboratories efficiently, enhancing results timeliness and quality [1]. With such, clinicians and patients strike a balance in data exchange regarding the condition.

It is no secret that the exchange of health information is a growing phenomenon in today’s world. This makes it increasingly essential to have standards that support these transfers, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness. The standards are improvements in a given aspect of the exchange, which builds upon safety and quality of care. Therefore, it is important to prioritize those standards that enhance and facilitate this electronic transfer of health information.


Esmaeilzadeh P, Sambasivan M. Health information exchange (HIE): A literature review, assimilation pattern and a proposed classification for a new policy approach. Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 2016; 64:74-86.

Payne T, Lovis C, Gutteridge C, Pagliari C, Natarajan S, Yong C, et al. Status of health information exchange: A comparison of six countries. Journal of Global Health. 2019; 9(2):20-27.

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