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Need HL7 message samples? Google isn’t the answer

By margo.ellis@caristix.com | Published: November 12th, 2014

HL7 message samples should be system-specific   

HL7 messagesWhen you build interfaces, you need HL7 message samples and test messages for your validation workflow. It’s tempting to simply hit Google for generic samples, or check on Stack Overflow or another tech discussion forum. But there are problems with that approach.

For one thing, you’ll end up with messages that don’t fit your systems – your ADT, your LIS, the applications personalized for your environment. What’s more, if you use just a handful of messages, that volume won’t be enough for thorough HL7 interfacing testing.

The danger with shoddy testing practices

Without the right messages and the right volume, you won’t be able to validate that events are exchanged appropriately, code sets are transmitted or transformed correctly, and optionality is handled as expected. What’s worse: if these validations tasks are skipped, developers can spend hours or days in a break-fix cycle during go-live.  

Need HL7 Message Samples? Consider 3 Solutions

  1. Create them manually. You can always extract a handful of production HL7 message samples, remove the PHI manually, add dummy patient demographics, and use those messages in your testing. But this is painstaking and error-prone. And you won’t solve the volume problem for performance testing.
  2. De-identification. Many of our clients use their production data for testing and validation. But before they do, they remove PHI and replace it with clinically valid fake data.  Read more about de-identification here.
  3. Test automation. Our clients also use test automation software to generate HL7 message samples. Test automation software (such as the Caristix solution) can generate messages on the fly, based on interface specs representing both source and destination systems. Learn more about test automation here.

 

Mix Them Up

Depending on your needs, you may need a mix of these techniques. If you have time and a tiny use case, consider manually creating your messages. If you have established production-based applications, de-identifying messages from those systems will work for you. And if you’re connecting brand-new systems, you’ll want to include messages generated via a test automation solution.

Caristix Workgroup

The Caristix platform includes features to de-identify messages and automate your tests while generating messages on the fly. Learn more today with the 16-minute on-demand demo of the Caristix Workgroup platform.

Categories : HL7 Interfacing
  1. 1 Comment(s)

    Posted February 2nd, 2015 | By Jens Villadsen

    ... or you could just mine the IHE Gazelle test instances for conforming message samples