New Interfaces: FAQ For Labs

Welcome to Scalabull's interfacing services!

In order to create a new interface, we require someone from each practice to submit a request following the process on this page. This will ensure we can track the request and provide status updates to the practice.

The remainder of this FAQ is oriented toward laboratories. If you work at a medical practice, see our Practice FAQ.


Laboratory/Radiology FAQ:

What types of institutions do you interface with?

The industry-standard HL7 connection enables us to connect with all clinical facilities that provide patient services, including:

  • Hospitals
  • All kinds of clinical laboratories
  • Imaging and radiology
  • Health Information Exchanges (HIEs)
  • In-office testing equipment

In all cases, facilities accept orders and return results.

How much do interfaces cost?

We charge a one-time flat fee for interfaces, which varies depending on the type of interface. We bill up-front for interfaces, net 30. Reimbursements are awarded for projects that have not yet begun implementation.

We do not charge any additional maintenance fees for interfaces unless a significant rebuild occurs (typically due to a change of LIMS). All routine processes like compendium updates, AOE adjustments, minor feature changes, and connectivity adjustments are provided at no additional cost.

Contact us at to receive a quote.

How long do interfaces take to set up?

End-to-end setup times have varied from a single day to over 6 months, with an average time of around 2 weeks per direction (results, ordering).

What types of connectivity do you support?

We strongly prefer SFTP connections, and we prefer to host the SFTP server. We can also log into remote SFTP sites for result pick-up / orders drop-off. 

For our own SFTP sites, we need to whitelist the public IP addresses from the machines you will use to pick up orders and drop off results. If using an SFTP provided by the lab, we prefer you have a similar firewall setup that requires our IPs to be whitelisted.

We also support site-to-site VPN connections with the latest recommended encryption schemes, although overall we find SFTP to be more appropriate for most labs.

What are your requirements for HL7 files sent through SFTP?

For HL7 ORUs (result messages) sent to Scalabull, the following requirements are automatically enforced by our system:

  • We accept all valid filenames, and all extensions. But the file must have an extension (e.g. .txt, .hl7).
  • We will only digest messages if the MSH3 and MSH6 segments match the interface configuration. We can adjust this at any time to meet your needs. However, any results sent to Scalabull that do not have MSH3 and MSH6 values that match the predefined configuration will not be delivered to the client. Typically Scalabull will see an automated alert when some of these results accumulate, and we'll contact the lab if this occurs in order to correct the issue.
  • We only accept one MSH ORU per file. Files with multiple ORUs written into them will not be sent to the practice. We find this sometimes causes an issue with high-volume interfaces in which timestamps are used for the ORU filename (due to a quirk in the way some interface engines work). The remedy is typically adding seconds and milliseconds to the filename, or using a unique ID in the result as part of the filename.

HL7 ORMs (order messages) sent from Scalabull contain a single ORM per file, and the filename can be configured to come in the following formats:

  • XYZ_20220302040300.hl7 . Where XYZ is a mnemonic or account ID unique to the client, and the timestamp following the underscore is the time the file is written. 
  • 1234_20220302040300.hl7 . Where the 4 digit number before the underscore are the first 4 digits of the order ID. 

We prefer to including the timestamp in these order messages for user-friendly, at-a-glance debugging in the event of issues. But, if required, we can customize the filename to meet your needs.


Do you have an HL7 Spec?

Our HL7 specs are here.

We accept any HL7 results formats and our system will automatically parse results on the fly. This includes embedded PDFs and many variations of the ORM format we've encountered in the industry.

For HL7 orders, our default (preferred) format is outlined in the specs. We can adapt this to match the receiving party's needs as necessary.

What type of compendium do you require?

We only require compendiums of orderable tests and any AOE questions associated with those tests. If provided, we can also include extra fields like specimen container types, collection method, instructions, where an AOE is required, and more.

We do not require any information about result codes (we only need the orderable tests).

We are able to process test compendiums more quickly if they are exported in this format. We prefer global compendiums that can be re-used across any practices that connect to your lab using Scalabull.

Can Scalabull provide insurance exports from the EHR?

We can submit a request with partner EHRs for exports of insurance information in the relevant practice(s) EHR installations if these are needed by a laboratory or organization receiving HL7 orders from Scalabull. See our default format here.

Please note that many EHR customers do not already have insurance information entered into their EHR system (often it's in a separate practice management system). This data sometimes needs to be manually entered into the EHR. We try to identify these scenarios before creating an interface so practices can plan ahead.

Can Scalabull adjust the Order ID format in HL7 ORM messages, and on requisitions?

We support several formats of unique order IDs. All order IDs are restricted to a maximum of 12 characters. Example formats include:

  • XXX-12345678 , where XXX is a fixed code per client, and 12345678 is a random number. This can be used to achieve globally unique order IDs.
  • 12 digit numerical
  • 8 digit hexadecimal
  • XXX1234567LF , where XXX is a fixed code per client, and LF are the first characters of the patient's last and first name

Do you create an e-requisition?

We have a custom e-requisition format that we can adapt as needed during interface testing. Our latest requisition includes a code 123 barcode (linear), automated physician e-signatures, and a variety of customizable fields.

Do you create specimen labels?

Yes, see our article on specimen labels.

For all other questions, please reach out to us at

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