Mapping Messages: HL7 to Database

In this article we will copy an HL7 message and save it to a database. For simplicity we will only map a few fields, but as you will see extra fields can easily be added. We placed the mapping code in a To Translator component, which is (usually) the most logical place when you are mapping to a database.

You can use exactly the same method to copy data between any of the different types of node trees.

These are the steps:

  1. Parse the message into a source HL7 node tree structure
  2. Create a database table node tree for the target message
  3. Map the data from the source node tree to the target node tree

We recommend that you type in the code for each step, but we also include complete Sample Code if you prefer to paste it in and follow along.

Tip: If you want to modify the message data see the “Transforming Messages:” tutorials in this section. Mapping and transformation use very similar techniques, the main difference is the intention: When you are mapping you are just copying the data, when you are transforming a message you are modifying the data (as well as copying it).

Preparation: Create the “test” database [top]

If you do not already have a SQLite database called “test” in the Iguana install directory, then you can create it by following the instructions in the Create a SQLite DB to match your VMD tutorial.

Create the Channel [top]

  1. Create a Channel with the the following settings:
    • Source = LLP Listener
    • Destination = To Translator
    • Channel name = Mapping HL7 to Database
  2. Click the Add Channel button to create the channel.
    Ignore the red warning messages, see resolving the milestone configuration error.
  3. Open the Translator by clicking the Edit Script link at the bottom of the Destination tab.
  4. Download and import the project file.
    This file contains a skeleton project and six sample HL7 messages.
  5. Iguana will load the project and data into the Translator, your screen should look like this:

Tutorial Instructions [top]

  1. Pass the message data to the script.
    • Iguana automatically passes the message data to the main() function
    • The message can be accessed using the Data parameter
    • No action is needed
  2. Parse the message into a convenient read-onlynode tree” structure.
    Add the following line of code to your script:
  3. Compare the text message and the parsed message.
    Click on the Data parameter (red text) and the ADT message icon:

    The messages should look something like this (we clicked on the PID segment to expand it):
  4. Create the database tables target node tree.
    Add the following line of code to your script:
  5. Map the HL7 node PID>Patient Identifier to the table node patient.Id.
    Enter this line of mapping code, auto-completion will help you to find the fields:
  6. Complete the patient mapping.
    Add these three lines of code:
  7. Compare the incoming and outgoing messages.
    Add a trace() command and click on the Msg and Out (ADT) annotations to view them:

    As you can see the mapping worked correctly, the patient data was mapped from the incoming to the outgoing message.
  8. Write the data to the database.
    Add this code to your script:

    Note: This is not part of the mapping process, but it is the needed to save the data to the database.

Complete Sample Code [top]

Here is the completed mapping code that you can cut and paste into your script:

function main(Data)
   -- (1) Parse the HL7 message
   local Msg, Name = hl7.parse{vmd = 'example/demo.vmd', data = Data}
   -- (2) Create the database tables target node tree
   local Out       = db.tables{vmd = 'example/demo.vmd', name = Name}
   -- (3) Map (part of) the message
   Out.patient[1].Id        = Msg.PID[3][1][1]
   Out.patient[1].LastName  = Msg.PID[5][1][1][1]
   Out.patient[1].GivenName = Msg.PID[5][1][2]
   Out.patient[1].Ssn       = Msg.PID[19]
   -- (4) Save data to database
   -- connect to the database
   if not Conn or not Conn:check() then
      Conn = db.connect{
   -- merge the data into the database
   Conn:merge{data=Out, live = true}

More Information [top]

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