LabCorp HL7

HL7 is the name of the file format that Open Dental uses to receive data from Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp).

Open Dental uses HL7 messages to receive lab results and embedded PDFs from LabCorp. We connect to a SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) site maintained by LabCorp and retrieve the files (HL7 messaging text). A service (program without a user interface) called OpenDentalHL7 needs to be installed on the server. It will handle the interaction between the HL7 messages and Open Dental database.

Updating Open Dental Versions

The OpenDentalHL7 service must be stopped before updating Open Dental on the server, then restarted when the update is complete. In version 15.2 or greater, all OpenDent services are automatically stopped prior to an update, then restarted when complete. Prior to version 15.2, you must manually stop and start services. See Stop Open Dental Services.

Setup Steps

  1. Make sure the client Open Dental program is installed on the server the same as it would be on any other workstation.
  2. Enable and set up the LabCorp HL7 Definition.
  3. Connect to the Database: The information for connecting to the database is in the FreeDentalConfig.xml file in the application folder. This is the same file that the main Open Dental program uses to connect to the database. The information in the file must be accurate before starting the OpenDentalHL7 service. One way to ensure the accuracy is to start the Open Dental client program:
    1. On the Choose Database window, set the database connection information. Only simple direct database connections are supported. Uncheck Do not show this window on startup so this window will show the next time you launch Open Dental, then close the window. The connection information should auto-save to the xml file. If using Windows 7 or Windows 8, you must right click, Run as Administrator when launching Open Dental or the information you enter will not be auto-saved to the FreeDentalConfig.xml file.
    2. Verify that the information saved correctly by re-launching Open Dental. If the information is correct, you can be sure that OpenDentalHL7 will connect to the correct database when the service is started.
  4. Create a service (OpenDentalHL7 service) to receive HL7 messages in the Open Dental Service Manager. If there are multiple database for multiple customers hosted on one server, then multiple HL7 services, each with unique names, must be setup. Then, each database must be set up to match with a differently named HL7 service. If already using HL7, you may only need to restart the OpenDentalHL7 service.

    Errors: If the service does not start as expected:

    • Verify that LabCorp message definition settings are correct.
    • The service will not start if the version is not exactly the same as the version of the main Open Dental program.
    • If it still won't start, use the Computer Management tool: My Computer, right click, Manage. Expand System Tools, Event Viewer, Windows Logs. Click on Application. The error and information entries will help determine the reason why the OpenDentalHL7 will not start.


Simple Troubleshooting: If the messages are not being passed to OD and processed as expected, follow the steps below.

  1. Stop the OpenDentalHL7 service.
  2. Edit the FreeDentalConfig.xml file by adding a line for <HL7verbose>True</HL7verbose>. Example:
  3. Start the service, then monitor the error log.
  4. After troubleshooting, remove the <HL7verbose>True</HL7verbose> line from the xml file. The line will usually be removed automatically when you click OK from the Choose Database window.