Why logging HL7 response codes is important

When Patients Know Best (PKB) receives an HL7 message, we respond by sending an acknowledgement (ACK) message. This message is used to indicate whether PKB received the message successfully or not, and if the patient record was either updated with the data sent or quarantined for manual review based on the configuration criteria specified (e.g. soft matching)

There is 1 success code (AA) and 2 error codes (AR or AE) that can be returned in MSA-1.1.

  • AR is used to indicate an error condition that we have checked for e.g. a mandatory field was not included.
  • AE is used to indicate that an unexpected error occurred and we would recommend these are addressed as a high priority.

It is not necessary for customers to build an automated “retry” mechanism when receiving an AE / AR response. This is most useful when you don’t receive a response at all, for example when an end point is temporarily unavailable. However, keeping an archive of failed messages is recommended, as this will allow them to be re-sent should any future investigation determine that this is the appropriate course of action.

Further information about this process can be found on our development wiki.

Whilst the overwhelming majority of HL7 messages PKB receives are processed successfully, we would strongly encourage our customers to have a robust process in place for logging and analysing our ACK responses.

For those occasions where an error code response is received, the PKB integrations team is available to provide help and support to our customers and offer recommendations on the appropriate actions needed to resolve the underlying cause.

The PKB integrations team has worked successfully with a number of customers to significantly reduce or eradicate error code responses. Whilst PKB will continue to proactively monitor for occurrences of AE responses, it is highly recommended that customers log HL7 acknowledgement codes for internal audit or support purposes and proactively monitor for issues on the source feed.

If you would like to know more or feel you could benefit from the support of the PKB integrations team, please get in touch with our integrations help desk:

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