HL7 Component

The hl7 component is used for working with the HL7 MLLP protocol and the HL7 model using the HAPI library.

This component supports the following:

  • HL7 MLLP codec for Mina
  • Agnostic data format using either plain String objects or HAPI HL7 model objects.
  • Type Converter from/to HAPI and String
  • HL7 DataFormat using HAPI library
  • Even more ease-of-use as it's integrated well with the camel-mina component.

Maven users will need to add the following dependency to their pom.xml for this component:

    <!-- use the same version as your Camel core version -->

HL7 MLLP protocol

HL7 is often used with the HL7 MLLP protocol that is a text based TCP socket based protocol. This component ships with a Mina Codec that conforms to the MLLP protocol so you can easily expose a HL7 listener that accepts HL7 requests over the TCP transport.

To expose a HL7 listener service we reuse the existing camel-mina component where we just use the HL7MLLPCodec as codec.

The HL7 MLLP codec has the following options:

Name Default Value Description
startByte 0x0b The start byte spanning the HL7 payload.
endByte1 0x1c The first end byte spanning the HL7 payload.
endByte2 0x0d The 2nd end byte spanning the HL7 payload.
charset JVM Default The encoding (is a charset name) to use for the codec. If not provided, Camel will use the JVM default Charset.
convertLFtoCR true Will convert \n to \r (0x0d, 13 decimal) as HL7 usually uses \r as segment terminators. The HAPI library requires the use of \r.
validate true Whether HAPI Parser should validate or not.

Exposing a HL7 listener

In our Spring XML file, we configure an endpoint to listen for HL7 requests using TCP:

        <endpoint id="hl7listener" uri="mina:tcp://localhost:8888?sync=true&amp;codec=#hl7codec"/>

Notice we configure it to use camel-mina with TCP on the localhost on port 8888. We use sync=true to indicate that this listener is synchronous and therefore will return a HL7 response to the caller. Then we setup mina to use our HL7 codec with codec=#hl7codec. Notice that hl7codec is just a Spring bean ID, so we could have named it mygreatcodecforhl7 or whatever. The codec is also set up in the Spring XML file:

    <bean id="hl7codec" class="org.apache.camel.component.hl7.HL7MLLPCodec">
        <property name="charset" value="iso-8859-1"/>

Above we also configure the charset encoding to use (iso-8859-1).

The endpoint hl7listener can then be used in a route as a consumer, as this Java DSL example illustrates:


This is a very simple route that will listen for HL7 and route it to a service named patientLookupService that is also a Spring bean ID we have configured in the Spring XML as:

    <bean id="patientLookupService" class="com.mycompany.healtcare.service.PatientLookupService"/>

Another powerful feature of Camel is that we can have our business logic in POJO classes that is not tied to Camel as shown here:

public class PatientLookupService {
    public Message lookupPatient(Message input) throws HL7Exception {
        QRD qrd = (QRD)input.get("QRD");
        String patientId = qrd.getWhoSubjectFilter(0).getIDNumber().getValue();

        // find patient data based on the patient id and create a HL7 model object with the response
        Message response = ... create and set response data
        return response

Notice that this class uses just imports from the HAPI library and none from Camel.

HL7 Model using java.lang.String

The HL7MLLP codec uses plain String as its data format. Camel uses its Type Converter to convert to/from strings to the HAPI HL7 model objects. However, you can use plain String objects if you prefer, for instance if you wish to parse the data yourself.

See samples for such an example.

HL7 Model using HAPI

The HL7 model uses Java objects from the HAPI library. Using this library, we can encode and decode from the EDI format (ER7) that is mostly used with HL7.
With this model you can code with Java objects instead of the EDI based HL7 format that can be hard for humans to read and understand.

The ER7 sample below is a request to lookup a patient with the patient ID, 0101701234.


Using the HL7 model we can work with the data as a ca.uhn.hl7v2.model.Message.Message object.
To retrieve the patient ID for the patient in the ER7 above, you can do this in Java code:

Message msg = exchange.getIn().getBody(Message.class);
QRD qrd = (QRD)msg.get("QRD");
String patientId = qrd.getWhoSubjectFilter(0).getIDNumber().getValue();

Camel has built-in type converters, so when this operation is invoked:

Message msg = exchange.getIn().getBody(Message.class);

Camel will convert the received HL7 data from String to Message. This is powerful when combined with the HL7 listener, then you as the end-user don't have to work with byte[], String or any other simple object formats. You can just use the HAPI HL7 model objects.

HL7 DataFormat

The HL7 component ships with a HL7 data format that can be used to format between String and HL7 model objects.

  • marshal = from Message to byte stream (can be used when returning as response using the HL7 MLLP codec)
  • unmarshal = from byte stream to Message (can be used when receiving streamed data from the HL7 MLLP

To use the data format, simply instantiate an instance and invoke the marhsal or unmarshl operation in the route builder:

  DataFormat hl7 = new HL7DataFormat();

In the sample above, the HL7 is marshalled from a HAPI Message object to a byte stream and put on a JMS queue.
The next example is the opposite:

  DataFormat hl7 = new HL7DataFormat();

Here we unmarshal the byte stream into a HAPI Message object that is passed to our patient lookup service.

Notice there is a shorthand syntax in Camel for well-known data formats that is commonly used.
Then you don't need to create an instance of the HL7DataFormat object:


Message Headers

The unmarshal operation adds these MSH fields as headers on the Camel message:

Key MSH field Example
CamelHL7SendingApplication MSH-3 MYSERVER
CamelHL7SendingFacility MSH-4 MYSERVERAPP
CamelHL7ReceivingApplication MSH-5 MYCLIENT
CamelHL7ReceivingFacility MSH-6 MYCLIENTAPP
CamelHL7Timestamp MSH-7 20071231235900
CamelHL7Security MSH-8 null
CamelHL7MessageType MSH-9-1 ADT
CamelHL7TriggerEvent MSH-9-2 A01
CamelHL7MessageControl MSH-10 1234
CamelHL7ProcessingId MSH-11 P
CamelHL7VersionId MSH-12 2.4

All headers are String types. If a header value is missing, its value is null.


The HL7 Data Format supports the following options:

Option Default Description
validate true Whether the HAPI Parser should validate.


To use HL7 in your Camel routes you'll need to add a dependency on camel-hl7 listed above, which implements this data format.

The HAPI library since Version 0.6 has been split into a base library and several structure libraries, one for each HL7v2 message version:

By default camel-hl7 only references the HAPI base library. Applications are responsible for including structure libraries themselves. For example, if a application works with HL7v2 message versions 2.4 and 2.5 then the following dependencies must be added:


Alternatively, an OSGi bundle containing the base library, all structures libraries and required dependencies (on the bundle classpath) can be downloaded from the HAPI Maven repository.



In the following example we send a HL7 request to a HL7 listener and retrieves a response. We use plain String types in this example:

String line1 = "MSH|^~\\&|MYSENDER|MYRECEIVER|MYAPPLICATION||200612211200||QRY^A19|1234|P|2.4";
String line2 = "QRD|200612211200|R|I|GetPatient|||1^RD|0101701234|DEM||";

StringBuilder in = new StringBuilder();

String out = (String)template.requestBody("mina:tcp://", in.toString());

In the next sample, we want to route HL7 requests from our HL7 listener to our business logic. We have our business logic in a plain POJO that we have registered in the registry as hl7service = for instance using Spring and letting the bean id = hl7service.

Our business logic is a plain POJO only using the HAPI library so we have these operations defined:

public class MyHL7BusinessLogic {

    // This is a plain POJO that has NO imports whatsoever on Apache Camel.
    // its a plain POJO only importing the HAPI library so we can much easier work with the HL7 format.

    public Message handleA19(Message msg) throws Exception {
        // here you can have your business logic for A19 messages
        assertTrue(msg instanceof QRY_A19);
        // just return the same dummy response
        return createADR19Message();

    public Message handleA01(Message msg) throws Exception {
        // here you can have your business logic for A01 messages
        assertTrue(msg instanceof ADT_A01);
        // just return the same dummy response
        return createADT01Message();

Then we set up the Camel routes using the RouteBuilder as follows:

DataFormat hl7 = new HL7DataFormat();
// we setup or HL7 listener on port 8888 (using the hl7codec) and in sync mode so we can return a response
    // we use the HL7 data format to unmarshal from HL7 stream to the HAPI Message model
    // this ensures that the camel message has been enriched with hl7 specific headers to
    // make the routing much easier (see below)
    // using choice as the content base router
        // where we choose that A19 queries invoke the handleA19 method on our hl7service bean
            .beanRef("hl7service", "handleA19")
        // and A01 should invoke the handleA01 method on our hl7service bean
            .beanRef("hl7service", "handleA01")
        // other types should go to mock:unknown
    // end choice block
    // marhsal response back

Notice that we use the HL7 DataFormat to enrich our Camel Message with the MSH fields preconfigued on the Camel Message. This lets us much more easily define our routes using the fluent builders.
If we do not use the HL7 DataFormat, then we do not gains these headers and we must resort to a different technique for computing the MSH trigger event (= what kind of HL7 message it is). This is a big advantage of the HL7 DataFormat over the plain HL7 type converters.

Sample using plain String objects

In this sample we use plain String objects as the data format, that we send, process and receive. As the sample is part of a unit test, there is some code for assertions, but you should be able to understand what happens. First we send the plain string, Hello World, to the HL7MLLPCodec and receive the response as a plain string, Bye World.

MockEndpoint mock = getMockEndpoint("mock:result");
mock.expectedBodiesReceived("Bye World");

// send plain hello world as String
Object out = template.requestBody("mina:tcp://", "Hello World");


// and the response is also just plain String
assertEquals("Bye World", out);

Here we process the incoming data as plain String and send the response also as plain String:

    .process(new Processor() {
        public void process(Exchange exchange) throws Exception {
            // use plain String as message format
            String body = exchange.getIn().getBody(String.class);
            assertEquals("Hello World", body);

            // return the response as plain string
            exchange.getOut().setBody("Bye World");

See Also

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