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].  The objective is to give implementers experience working with the FHIR specification outside a production environment and to provide feedback that improves the FHIR ecosystem.

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 two FHIR North events highlights the need for a Canadian connectathon.

How will the FHIR North Connectathon work?

FHIR North 2017 in still in the planning stages. The event will be focused on building and connecting FHIR-enabled applications, but will also include presentations, demos, training and education. Last year was a great success, but we’re trying to make this year even better based on feedback from last year’s participants. This year’s event is still in the planning stages, but here’s what we anticipate.

  • The connectathon will feature a number of “real-world” applications that participants can try connecting to and interacting with using FHIR – final list to be determined
    • Experts on each system will be available to answer questions and offer guidance
  • The connectathon will include special areas of focus for developers new to FHIR, or those wishing to implement FHIR in a mobile app (iOS or Android)
    • These areas of focus will have additional experts available to provide support and guidance
  • Presentations from prominent members of the FHIR community, including Lloyd McKenzie, James Agnew, Josh Mandel and others to be announced
    • Sessions will be available for both technical and non-technical audiences; past FHIR North events have been well-attended by managers and executives
  • Demos and presentations of real-world FHIR implementations, with the opportunity to ask questions and speak with people who have put FHIR to work in production systems
  • Great opportunities to meet, network and share ideas with other members of the Canadian health informatics community

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.

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 26h 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 and coffee breaks.


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

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