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Best Practices

Monitoring HL7 feeds with LogicMonitor


Posted by Tim Guzman, Tim Guzman - Product Manager at LogicMonitor
Oct 16, 2015

Recently a customer contacted us at support for help setting up alert thresholds on a custom datasource they had written. Upon inspecting the datasource in the customer's LogicMonitor portal, I realized they were monitoring an HL7 feed, which I found intriguing.

HL7 stands for Health Level 7, and refers to the standards and methods of moving clinical data between independent medical applications (commonly used within hospitals). The feed is comprised of human readable text messages broken up into sections, much like an email. One of the most common types of HL7 transmissions are ADT messages, which are used to update admissions, discharges, and transfers within a patient's clinical data record.

Below is an example of an HL7 message:

MSH|^~\&|MegaReg|XYZHospC|SuperOE|XYZImgCtr|20150529090131-0500||ADT^A01|01052901|P|2.5
EVN||201505290901||||201505290900
PID|||56782445^^^UAReg^PI||DOE^JOHN||19620910|M||2028-9^^HL70005^RA99113^^XYZ|200 E 6TH ST^^AUSTIN^TX^30
OBX|1|NM|^Body Height||6|f^Feet^ISO+|||||F
OBX|2|NM|^Body Weight||180|lb^Pounds^ISO+|||||F
AL1|1||^ASPIRIN

In the message above you’ll notice each segment contains an object identifier, followed by that section's relevant information. For example, PID identifies the patient and contains their date of birth and home address. Observations (vitals) and allergies are noted within the record as well to prevent any potentially dangerous reactions to prescriptions. 

With the constant updating of a patient’s data, the ADT feed allows information to be transmitted from a clinic or hospital information system to an external application or provider in near real-time. Once updated, the clinical data is usually accessed or needed in many different places such as outpatient clinics or labs. Fortunately, our customer was not interested in following or recording personal data - which may have moved the monitoring system into scope for HIPPA compliance. Their goal was only to monitor the feed's status. To do this, their datasource uses a webpage collector to query data from the feed's API using a GET request. The message feed status was determined using a datapoint that measures the amount of time since a new message is posted. Depending on how busy the hospital location is, there are times when it is entirely acceptable to have zero new messages posted in any particular feed. Once a considerable amount of time has passed with no new messages, however, the customer wanted to be alerted so they could investigate.

After working with the customer on this particular issue I came to realize how flexible LogicMonitor is. In addition to the hundreds of supported devices, services, and apps LogicMonitor supports, it can be customized to meet any monitoring need. Even for use cases we hadn’t thought of our selves! 

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