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SAP Healthcare Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture and HL7

What I would like to focus on this blog is: our experience of SAP Healthcare eSOA for SAP Healthcare Solution based on Netweaver technique. This may give you a light to explain:


  • “How does eSOA speak/use/support HL7 standard?”
  • “What is the relationship between eSOA and HL7?”

Also I believe most of you have/had experience or your understanding of eSOA and HL7. I am also very interested to have your ideas to share with me in this blog or in SAP for Healthcare .


Business value

One of all the most important factors within a solution is: understand the business needs of customers. Whatever the operation system, techniques, or industry standards the customers have, their expectation of our solution is: an efficient solution fits their business needs, reduces the TCO of implementation and integration and ensures quality and security.

My understanding of business needs in healthcare may include both Business Processes and support of Industry Standards, like HL7, DICOM etc. (BTW, these standards are used for the Patient Data and digital images transformation cross various applications from different vendors worldwide). Customers also care about whether the solution can fit the Industry Standards.

So based on this understanding, we proceed the eSOA into 2 parts:

  1. Enterprise Service Definition 
  2. Technology platform in supporting eSOA and Healthcare Standards

These are also the fundamentals of SAP Healthcare Business Process Platform!  


Service Definition

The goal of the service definition is to understand the business needs. Business scenarios and process workflow are the top-down input for SAP Healthcare eSOA. As I have mentioned in my last blog, we had the service definition based on various resources: from customers, standard groups (IHE/HL7), our experiences and SAP backend functionalities. I will not elaborate the details here again.

What are in the service definition?

Enterprise service describes one business process or one business scenario, e.g. Patient Management. It can contain several service operations. Each service operation means one exactly business behaviour, e.g. “Notify Patient created”. The name of the service operation indicates what is supposed to happen in the application. Enterprise services can be reused in other business process. With the advantage of Business Modelling tool the business needs can be modelled in various Business Processes with the reuse of Enterprise Services.

In this way business needs will be defined in the service definition, but this is not the whole thing. As I have said, healthcare customers expect the solution fits not only their business scenarios but also the Industry Standards like HL7 that they use every day at their work.


Now we come to the second point: eSOA and HL7.

SAP Healthcare eSOA and HL7

The SAP healthcare enterprise service does not describe any healthcare standards e.g. HL7. But, during the Business Process Modelling not only the service operations of the whole business process will be modelled, but also the message type, data type, communication pattern for each service operation.

Let me give you an example from our servcie definition: a service operation “Notify Patient created” indicates its function at the application side, it is defined as an outbound service operation with the message type: SAP standard (Web Service). It means this message will be sent out from SAP backend to the other non-SAP applications.

What does this mean for the non-SAP applications who may not understand SAP standard message? In this case we use the SAP technology platform which is NetWeaver and its Integration Platform: Process Integration (PI), the SAP standard will then be mapped in accordance to HL7 messages (version 2.x) via PI, from PI these message will be sent to non-SAP applications.

Vice versa, if one application will send a HL7 message to SAP, then we need to define this service. In this case it is an inbound message with the message type HL7. This HL7 message will be mapped to SAP standard (Web Service in this case) again via PI, and then this service will trigger a suitable function at the SAP backend system, patient will be created at the SAP side. In this way eSOA will be “translated” into HL7 on Netweaver Platform.

Again as you may recognize, understanding the inbound services from non-SAP applications is also an important part for SAP heatlthcare eSOA definition. This is also we have done with our customers, partners and standards like IHE. To make that the eSOA we provide could cover most of the business needs.

So, generally SAP eSOA is a business driven model, focus on description of Business needs. Last but not least the SAP eSOA also supports the Industry Standards with the benefits of its technology platform NetWeaver and its components like PI.


I hope that I have given you our experience and understanding of eSOA and HL7. Our understanding is: eSOA is not conflict with HL7. From the business perspective it describes standard business scenarios, which are mostly used in Healthcare industry. With the SAP technology platform NetWeaver it supports HL7 standards (sure other standards like EDI as well) via message mapping in PI (Process Integration).

Of course we shall not forget topics like Security, Quality or Service, Monitoring of services, Message Reliability and so on, they belong to SAP Healthcare Business Process Platform too.

But I would like leave these aspects in my next blog. How Netweaver (especiall PI) could match the technical requirements.

So, see you next time.



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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Jing,

      One question. You say: "the SAP standard will then be mapped in accordance to HL7 messages (version 2.x) via PI, from PI these message will be sent to non-SAP applications."

      But, who's doing the definition of these mapping? Will SAP provide standard Software components for PI in order to do the mapping? Or maybe you meant that PI can do the conversion, but customers has to implement the mapping on their own?
      Since HL7 it's an established standard with several implementations it would be great if SAP provided not only the tools but also the mapping.


      David R.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      Hi David,
      First I am very happy that your have read my blogs and given me your comments.

      To simply answer your questions I would say: SAP healthcare does the SAP related service mapping to HL7".

      The definition of the mapping is based on our service definition and the Netweaver PI technology.

      As I have mentioned in my blog, SAP has done the service definition with cutomers,partners and also referred to definition from standard initiative like IHE.

      The mappings will be done only for SAP services and the according HL7 messages which is recommended from IHE. This means, SAP delivers SAP healthcare services, these services will be mapped into HL7 standard, sure this will be done by us with the PI and its conversion tool. The whole will be then delivered within SAP healthcare product to customers.

      The non-SAP services or HL7 message mappings in customer's landscapte could be done by SAP Netweaver PI conversion tool and its adapters.

      I hope this could answer your questions. In case you still need more information, you may go to our BPX-Healthcare Forum, there you will meet me and other my healthcare colleagues.

      FYI: in my next blog I will tell you more about PI and Healthcare standards and services.

      best regards

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thanks Jing,

      That's all I wanted to know... It means that we will have near out-of-box connectivity using HL7 (and PI, of course).

      Looking forward for your next blog about PI and healthcare.

      regards from Barcelona,

      David R.