Why Payers Should Play with FHIR – Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Why Payers Should Play With FHIR. To read part 1 click here.

HL7 holds Connectathons on the Saturday and Sunday before the working group meeting. Plan to arrive the evening before to settle in. Attendees can register as observers or participants. Review the Connectathon 14 wiki page before arriving. The wiki lists proposed tracks and use cases. Although optional, I highly recommend using the tracking spreadsheet to register for two tracks. These choices are not mandatory. You can always switch tracks if you change your focus or complete your primary track early.

The Connectathon starts at 9:00 AM on Saturday. Arrive before 8:15 AM so you can pick a good seat and get eggs for breakfast (both are usually gone by 8:30 AM). If you’re delayed because you stayed out too late the night before (I won’t blame you, it is a Friday after all), find a seat as close to your track table as possible and locate your track lead. All tracks have an online chat group on the FHIR website, so communication should not be a problem. Worst case, you get a bit of exercise walking back and forth to your track table to ask questions. I highly recommend interacting face-to-face.

You will spend most of your time working with FHIR servers, APIs, and resources. How this plays out depends on the specifics of your track, but first-time attendees will likely edit XML or JSON files and use a REST client, like Postman, to send or retrieve files from a FHIR server. More advanced users will write code to generate resources from existing data and programmatically send/retrieve data from FHIR servers.

During the Connectathon, monitor the group chat. This is where participants discuss secret tips and tricks. Any changes or bugs in the track scenarios will also be posted on the chat. If you cannot get an answer on chat, feel free to walk around and ask questions of the more experienced FHIR-fighters (I warned you about puns). Although it may remind you of a freshmen mixer in college, mingling is crucial. The best part of a Connectathon is face-to-face time with experts.

If you finish your track early, help those around you. If they’d rather not listen to your gloating, feel free to join another track and learn another aspect of FHIR. The Connectathon should challenge FHIR and test its limits. I encourage you to push yourself and the standard. While the Saturday session officially ends at 5:00 PM, you can stay for the after-party where some continue working until late.

Final testing, as well as wrapping up and reporting out, is scheduled for Day 2. Track leads look to participants to report on what worked, what didn’t, what was accomplished or discovered, etc. The day typically ends at noon. The Connectathon infrastructure is live throughout the week for those wishing to go further. Participants are welcome to continue working.

Attendees should prepare their laptops with any necessary software for their tracks. The exact needs will vary by track, so please contact your track leads (listed on the Connecathon 14 wiki page) about what software you should load in advance. This will often include REST clients like Postman (see previous link), development environments, XML/JSON editors, etc. Participants with locked down laptops will often need to review the track requirements with their IT department in advance, or bring a personal laptop.

Attendees are also encouraged to verify connectivity to a FHIR test server in advance of the Connectathon. The easiest way to do this is to take the FHIR  endpoint URL for a given server and add “/metadata” to the end of it, which will return the server’s CapabilitiesStatement resource*. Your track lead will tell you which server or servers to use, but some common ones are listed below. You can copy the listed URLs into a web browser to confirm your access to the CapabilityStatement.

* The CapabilityStatement resource was previously called the Conformance resource. Some servers may use the old name.