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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

IHE Profiles and HL7 Conformance Testing Tools

This week I'm reviewing a new introductory HL7 Version 2 class that we've been developing for internal staff and our customers. We've had quite a bit of help from staff and volunteers at HL7 in the development of this class, thanks to Karen Van Hentenryck of HL7 and Peter Rontey of the Veterans Administration.

One of the tools we run through in the class is the HL7 Messaging Workbench. This tool can be used to sniff and parse HL7 messages and validate them against an HL7 Conformance profile. It can also be used to create a conformance profile. One of the things that I'd like to see the IHE Testing and tools committee do is to develop appropriate conformance profiles that can be used inside this tool to validate instances of HL7 messages. This would enable people to use the common HL7 Version 2 tools to test implementations of IHE profiles. Numerous profiles from IHE use these messages, including PIX and PDQ from the IT Infrastructure Domain, LWF (Laboratory Workflow) from the Laboratory domain, and SWF (Scheduled Workflow) from the Radiology Domain.

After we create the conforming message profiles in IHE, we could also register them with the HL7 Version 2 Conformance profile registry. This would enable people to quickly find and download the material and use it to test IHE profiles.

Finally, we can make use of the NIST developed Message Maker tool to support generation of test messages according to the published conformance profiles.

If you haven't looked at these tools, and you need to test HL7 messages, you probably should. You can find these fairly easily on the new HL7 Web Site. At the new home page, click on Tools in the Participate box. On the Tools and Resources page open V2 Tools in the tree. By the way, if you are looking for Messaging Workbench, you can find it under the name "Project Workbench".

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