In the interface lifecycle, validation is critical. HL7 interface validation is about checking the interface you’ve developed: making sure it works and that it meets the requirements you captured before interface development.
The most important requirements are around clinical workflow. In essence, validation is about testing against your workflows. You should test performance, message volume, and edge use cases, all before the applications and interface go live.
Need more detail on what you should test? Get an HL7 interfacing checklist here.
What can go wrong?
There are two ways HL7 interface validation can go wrong.
First, if you’re pressed for time, you might be tempted to cut corners and skimp on validation. This is a bad idea because go-live will be a disaster. Without checking workflow, edge cases, and performance, you are setting yourself up for downtime and frustrated clinicians who can’t access the data they need. Avoid this problem by documenting a validation plan based on your requirements, at the start of the project.
Second –ironically enough — good validation practices can put you in a trial-and-error, break-fix nightmare. We’ve worked with teams that faced this issue. Because they were thorough testers, a 30-minute code update required 2 weeks of testing and validation to ensure the interface met requirements. This is the danger with manual validation practices.
But you can solve this problem with automated HL7 interface validation and testing.
3 reasons you should automate validation
- Run validations over and over again. Once you set up the scenarios, you can repeat them endlessly. So that 3-week trial-and-error cycle can be compressed to a few hours.
- Generate the test data you need. When you automate, you get to cover both common and uncommon workflows, work with plain-vanilla (expected) and weird-and-wonderful (unexpected) data and patient information, just one message or thousands of them.
- You’ll gain accuracy. With automation, there is no temptation to skip validation scenarios. You also have a record of what was tested. The record is a by-product of the validation process, so there is no extra work to get this information.
The Caristix platform automates HL7 interface validation, enabling you to set up test scenarios and run them as often as you need. We’ve put together a list of tutorials and how-tos for common validation scenarios. Check them out. You can use them as-is with Caristix software, or adapt them to your own test environment.