Interface Explorer for HL7

 by Laconic Designs

  Software for the Healthcare Interface Professional





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  • Fax: 517-579-0275
  • Phone: 616-405-3267
  • Laconic Designs
    2475 72nd Ave
    Zeeland, MI 49464




Interface Explorer - New Features

This section provides an overview of the major enhancements in each new version.  For a summary of all changes from version to version, please see the version history page.


Version 1.8.5


This upgrade consists of six bug fixes, including one that would occur seemingly at random but which was associated with very specific mouse pointer movements over a segment that did not end in a segment delimiter.  in version 1.8.2 we have added support for loading HL7 messages from Sybase e-Biz logs as well as enhancing how repeating fields and segments are processed and the ability to use HL7 field descriptions in reports instead of HL7 field names. 


We have several enhancements in the works, among them customized tool-tips for field values that are specific to your organization, a much improved compare function, and more.  However, we did not wish to hold up the release of the bug fixes.



Version 1.8.2


In addition to four small bug fixes, in version 1.8.2 we have added support for loading HL7 messages from Sybase e-Biz logs as well as enhancing how repeating fields and segments are processed and the ability to use HL7 field descriptions in reports instead of HL7 field names. 



Version 1.8.1


With version 1.8.1 we had three primary goals.  First,  for our customers who use Cerner Millennium, we wanted to provide the ability to read HL7 directly from the OEN_TXLOG table.   This new feature has been very well received by our beta sites who use Cerner.


Second, we wanted to provide support for HL7 v2.4's new segments and fields.  


Third, we wanted to conduct a top/down review of the program to find and eliminate any bugs or oddities that could be found.  As a result, this version remediates 11 bugs - this represents all known bugs with one exception (the compare utility which does not correctly compare repeating segments - this is scheduled to be fixed in January '06).



Load HL7 Messages Directly from Cerner Millennium's OEN_TXLOG Table


A really great feature for our customers who use Cerner Millennium with an Oracle database is the ability to use Interface Explorer to view message within the OEN_TXLOG table instead of being forced to use OEN_TXLOG_VIEW and its very limited searching capabilities.  


You can now load into Interface Explorer HL7 records from any of Cerner's inbound or outbound interfaces.  To use this feature, select [File | Open from Cerner].  You will be prompted for the Cerner domain and Oracle User ID and password.  After successfully logging in, you will be presented with a list of all current inbound and outbound Cerner interfaces:



After selecting an interface and specifying a date/time range, all HL7 messages meeting the criteria are loaded into Interface Explorer.  You now can use all of Interface Explorer's power reporting, searching, and other tools to analyze the HL7 messages instead of being limited to OEN_TXLOG_VIEW's very minimal tools.




Version 1.7.1


Version 1.7.1 introduces three major new features: (1) Tool-Tips identification of fields (just point at a field in the SegmentList listbox and the field will be identified by name and description); and (2) The ability to automatically uncompress HL7 data files that have been archived and compressed using gzip, compress, or ZIP; and (3) A new function, Determine Which Fields are Used, to help you document interfaces better by reporting on what fields coming from an external system actually contain values.



Tool-Tips Identification of Fields


One of the coolest new features is the use of tool-tips to identify fields.  Simply point to a field in the SegmentList and the field name and description will be displayed.  In this example, we point the mouse to "E/D" and the field is automatically identified as PV1-10 [Hospital Service].




Automatic Decompression of Compressed HL7 Data Files


Another very useful new feature is the ability to automatically decompress files that have been archived using gzip or ZIP.  Many hospitals use the gzip or zip programs to compresses HL7 data-files that are being archived.  Not only do they take less space, but compressed files load into Interface Explorer much faster than non-compressed files.


The decompression takes place automatically.  Gzip'd files are recognized by their standard .gz extension.  Zip'd files are recognized by their .zip extension.  


The automatic decompression works whether the files are stored locally on your PC or are being FTP'd from your interface engine.  


See the Archiving Compressed HL7 document for more information on the benefits of compressing your archived HL7 data files.



"Determine Which Fields are Used" Function


This neat feature is great for helping you to document your interfaces.  Load a days worth of HL7 messages from a system and run the Determine Which Fields are Used function.  It will determine which fields actually contain non-null values.  



You can also select an option to display only the last field of each segment that contains data - useful for determining how many fields your interface engine  must define in each segment.




Version 1.5.5


Version 1.5.5 introduces a View function, which allows you to display only a few select fields instead of having to display all fields.


 To create a view:


(1) Load a file of HL7 messages.

(2) Select the fields that you want to view to the exclusion of the other fields.

(3) Click on the "View" button on the toolbar or select from the main menu [Views | Create a View Using the Selected Fields].

(4) You will be asked if you want to give this view a name and save it for future use.




(5) As you move from record to record or apply filters, only the records in defined in the view will be displayed instead of all fields in the record:




 To disable the view and revert to viewing all fields;


(1) To disable the view and go back to seeing all fields, from the main menu select [Views | Disable Current View].





 To use a previously defined view;


(1) To use a previously defined view, after loading a file of HL7 messages,  from the main menu select [Views | <name of view>].  For example, to apply the view "MSH Info", make your selection as shown below:






Version 1.5.1


In version 1.5.1 we have introduced three major enhancements: customized views, a report writer and the ability to export data in either delimited or fixed-width formats.  


To create a report:


(1) Apply filters to the records until you are left with only the records that you want to appear in the report.

(2) Select the fields that you want to appear in your report (use <Ctrl>Click to select multiple records).

(3) Right-click on a field to get the field pop-up menu and select "Report Writer".  You will see a report similar to:




(4) Sort: you can sort on any on the column by clicking on the column header.  Click on the column header again to reverse the sort.  You can also sort on up to three columns by clicking [File | Sort].  The "Sort Report" form will be displayed and you can select up to three fields on which to sort (primary, secondary, ternary).




(5) Change the order of the columns by clicking on a column header and dragging it to the new location.


(6) You can change the printer font and whether or not to display column headers on every page by selecting [File | Page Setup].


(7) You can print your report by selecting [File | Print].



To export data as delimited or fixed-width fields:


(1) To export data, first select the records and fields that you want to export as described above in the section on creating a report.


(2) Select [File | Export].  You will see the following form:




(3) You can choose to export the column headers as the first row of data.


(4) You can choose to export all records or only those that you selected (using <Ctrl>Click or <Shift>Click).


If exporting as delimited, you can select the field separator (use "\t" or ^t for a tab delimiter).  You can also choose to put quotes around all fields or just those containing the field separator character.


If you are exporting fixed width fields, click on the "Fixed Width" tab and you will see the following form:





You can specify the width of each field, whether to left or right justify the field, and whether or not to zero fill the field (if it is right-justified).  The program automatically calculates the width necessary to contain the widest data within each field.  To change the default width or justification, select the field, make your change in width or justification, then click [Save Change].


When you are ready to export, click [Export] and you will be prompted for a filename.




Version 1.4.x


The following enhancements are the result of suggestions by dozens of hospitals, consultants, and laboratories.  The feature set of Interface Explorer is very much customer driven, so if you have a suggestion (or find a bug), be sure to let us know at


The most recent enhancements can be found in the Version History.


User definable ACK's:  You can select either MSH based ACK’s (MSA|AA) or Simple ACK’s (x0b x06 x1c x0d) and you can customize the actual characters used in either type of ACK.


Determine all Unique Values a Field May Contain:  You can easily determine if there are any oddball values in any of your fields.  For example, you can load 20,000 records and see all of the unique values contained in MSH-9 (you might be surprised to see what is coming out of some of your systems!).


Ability to Compare Records or Segments:  You can compare two records (or segments) and easily identify the differences between the records (differences are shown in red).


Control Over Fonts:  You have the ability to change the font, font size, and font attributes (italic, bold, etc) used to display records, segments, and fields in order to display more data on the screen or make the data easier to read.


FTP Enhancements:


  • You can select multiple files and view them as one large file.
  • You can see the date/time stamp of the files as well as the file sizes. 
  • You can sort by filename, size, or date/time by clicking on the column headers.  You can also drag the headers left and right to change the order of the columns (all changes are of course saved from session to session).
  • Binary and ASCII transfer support.
  • Option to either overwrite or append to existing files (FTP Get function)

Option to Hide the button bar:  Hide the button bar to provide more space on the screen to display data.


Greater flexibility in resizing the three main frames: the RecordList frame, SegmentList frame, and the FieldList frame.  See more of the type of data that you want to see.


Assign Constant Value to Field: Ability to assign a constant field value to any field (for example, if you were making test data, you could assign MSH-11 in all records to "T").


Citrix Support:  We now support installation on Citrix servers.  This will allow your support staff (if you have Citrix) to remotely run Interface Explorer while minimizing the amount of data that must be sent to their remote location.


Disabling of Various Features:  For those of you who wish to install Interface Explorer for Analysts or power-users, there is now a password protected administration form that allows you to disable various features that you might not want an Analyst or power-user to have access to.  The features that you can disable are:    


  • File Open
  • File Save
  • Get from FTP
  • Put to FTP
  • TCP/IP Client (can't send data via TCP/IP)
  • TCP/IP Server (can't receive data via TCP/IP)
  • Printing

Laconic Designs, 2475 72nd Ave, Zeeland MI  49464
Fax: 517-579-0275      Phone: 616-405-3267
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