Communication Environment for HL7

HL7 conceptually operates at the seventh level of the ISO model for Open System Interconnection (OSI). Since the OSI protocols are not universally implemented, the HL7 Working Group is interested in providing standards that will be useful in the interim. Some of the network environments supported by the HL 7: Standard is given below. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. It is only a partial list of the universe of environments that the standard supports Environments that support a robust transport level, but do not meet the high level requirements. This includes environments such as TCP/IP, DECNET, and SNA. ISO and proprietary networks that implement up to presentation and other high level services. IBM’s SNA LU6.2 and SUN Microsystems’s NFS are examples of complete proprietary networks. The HL7 Standard assumes the communications environment will provide the following capabilities: Error free transmission: Applications can assume that they correctly received all of the transmitted bytes in the correct order that they were sent. This implies that error checking is done at a lower level. However, sending applications may not assume that the message was actually received without receiving an acknowledgment message. Character conversion: If the two machines exchanging data use different representations of the same character set, the communications environment will convert the data from one representation to the other. Message length: HL7 sets no limits on the maximum size of HL7 messages. The Standard assumes that the communications environment can transport messages of any length that might be necessary. In practice, sites may agree to place some upper bound on the size of messages and may use the message continuation protocol, described later in this guide, for messages that exceed the upper limit.



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