FAQ

What’s a FHIR Connectathon?

A FHIR connectathon is a gathering of implementers interested in testing to see whether they can implement and successfully interoperate applications using some portion of the HL7Ò FHIRÒ specification[1]. It is less formal than IHE connectathons in that there is no independent testing or certification process. The objective is to give implementers experience working with the FHIR specification outside a production environment and to provide feedback that improves FHIR.

Why are we holding a FHIR Connectathon in Canada?

FHIR is attracting significant interest world-wide. Although the standard is still evolving, it’s being used in production in multiple countries. There have been numerous connectathons held in the U.S., Europe, South America and Australasia. The continued growth of interest here in Canada combined with the success of last year’s event highlights the need for a Canadian connectathon.

How will the FHIR North Connectathon work?

The event will be focused on building and connecting FHIR-enabled applications, but will also include training and education sessions for developers of all skill levels. Last year was a great success, but we’re trying to make this year even better based on feedback from last year’s participants. For now, here’s how we described last year’s event (this year will probably be similar):

This connectathon has three tracks. Implementers choose which track(s) they wish to implement and whether they want to participate as a client, server or both. Depending on the complexity of the track, a participant may choose to perform some or most of their solution development up-front, though some degree of bug fixing, tweaking or enhancing on-site is typical. For the “introduction” track for client systems, all development can happen on-site. During the connectathon, implementers work to test the ability of their systems to execute their chosen scenario with other participants as well as with public test servers.

Who can participate?

At past connectathons we’ve had a wide range of participants – active developers already familiar with FHIR, individuals who have never seen the FHIR specification and architects who have not coded in years. Almost all have been able to produce an interoperable implementation over the course of a day.

FHIR North is open to anyone with an interest in FHIR and a willingness to learn and collaborate – participants of all levels of skill and experience are welcome and encouraged to attend, whether you’re a student or an experienced health informatics professional.

Can you provide further information the different tracks you’ll have available at this year’s event?

The FHIR North connectathon takes a somewhat different approach than other connectathons. Most of our connectathon tracks do not have any specific scenario or goal. Instead, we have tried to make a variety of “real-world” systems available for participants to interact with, along with experts who are familiar with each of these systems and provide guidance.

Participants are encouraged to devise their own scenarios and collaborate with one another – you might wish to:

  • Try interacting with another participant’s application in addition to (or in lieu of) one of the “official” applications or systems included in the connectathon tracks
  • Develop a scenario that involves your application working in concert with one developed by another participant
  • Begin a project before the connectathon if you’re planning something ambitious, or start fresh on the day of the event

There is time set aside for demos at the end of the day, and all participants are invited to share their creations with other FHIR North attendees.

FHIR for Beginners

Designed for developers who have no previous experience working with FHIR, this is the most structured connectathon track available. Participants will develop an application that can search and retrieve Patient resources from a publically available FHIR test server.

Hands-on assistance and guidance will be available, and we will endeavor to provide written directions and example code if possible. Participants who complete the goals for this track quickly are welcome to attempt working with other FHIR resource types, implement more advanced features of FHIR, or join another connectathon track.

Intro to SMART on FHIR

This track offers support and guidance for developers who would like to try developing mobile apps that implement FHIR. There are no pre-defined goals for this track – participants may attempt to interact with public FHIR test servers or the applications & services made available in other tracks as they prefer. Developers from University Health Network who have experience with both FHIR and mobile app development (iOS and Android) will be on hand to offer assistance

Participants may choose to create an app from scratch or bring an existing project that they wish to continue building on. For those starting from scratch, we recommend retrieving Patient resources from a public test server as an initial goal.

Automated Testing & Test-Driven Development in FHIR

Mohawk College will provide a FHIR interface for a test instance of the Ontario Lab Information System (OLIS) for connectathon participants to interact with. Documentation for the interface will be available at the connectathon, and Mohawk College developers will be on hand to provide guidance and answer questions.

This track does not include any specific goals or scenarios; participants are free to experiment and set their own goals. Collaboration between participants or creation of your own scenarios is welcome and encouraged.

FHIR for Developers

Ontario MOHLTC will be making FHIR interfaces to test instances of the provincial immunization and drug repositories available for participants to interact with. Documentation for the interfaces will be provided at the connectathon, and developers from MOHLTC will be on hand to provide guidance and answer questions.

This track does not include any specific goals or scenarios; participants are free to experiment and set their own goals. Collaboration between participants or creation of your own scenarios is welcome and encouraged.

Infoway FHIR Tooling

Canada Health Infoway will be making an instance of the FHIR package repository currently under development by the FHIR Implementation Working Group available for participants to interacr with. Documentation for the interfaces will be provided at the connectathon, and Infoway personnel will be on hand to provide guidance and answer questions.

This track does not include any specific goals or scenarios; participants are free to experiment and set their own goals. Collaboration between participants or creation of your own scenarios is welcome and encouraged. 

How do I prepare?

At minimum, come prepared with a development environment – FHIR provides reference implementations in Java, C#, Delphi/Pascal, Javascript and Objective C. Ideally, browse through the FHIR specification, download the appropriate reference implementation or one of the open source implementations and try using with one of the many public test servers. The more coding you have done up front, the more you can focus on edge cases and debugging.

However, please don’t feel like you have to do any development ahead of time (especially if you’re new to FHIR). It’s perfectly fine if you show up with a laptop set up for development and a bunch of questions!

What’s in it for me?

Last year’s participants told us the most valuable part of the connectathon was being able to meet, talk and collaborate with other FHIR implementers. You’ll also meet some of the world’s leading FHIR experts (and have the chance to ask them questions), and take part in training and education sessions led by those same experts. Last – but definitely not least – you’ll get the chance to see whether FHIR really lives up to the hype and an opportunity to help shape the future of the specification.

What are the details?

April 26th at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario (day before Apps for Health). The registration fee  will cover entry, any training sessions you wish to attend, lunch, coffee breaks and a pizza dinner.

[1] “HL7” and “FHIR” are registered trademarks of Health Level Seven International

 


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