This past weekend, Bellese, inc FHIR team members George Bennett and Tim Hall joined Bill Lakenan, our interoperability lead, to participate in the 32nd HL7 FHIR Connectathon in Henderson, Nevada. Held three times each year, each Connectathon provides a hacker space for implementers to test newly proposed enhancements, customizations, and less mature portions of the FHIR standard.
Connectathons are divided up into tracks based on the area of focus. The Bellese team spent most of their time embedded in the Clinical Reasoning Track that was focused on testing the logic and integrations related to a variety clinical quality measures and clinical decision support.
HL7 requires that changes to the FHIR standard and HL7 implementation guides be proven viable in real-world implementations before they can be considered mature.
The team successfully, locally published an implementation guide using the HL7 provided tooling. We ran the FHIR Shorthand (FSH) pre-processor and HL7 Java-based publisher to convert source files into a well-formatted, human-readable suite of HTML pages. In doing this, Bill learned how easy it is to really mess up his local Java/Node/Ruby environment and was forced to use an existing Docker container which worked flawlessly.
Testing the FHIR-based Quality Measures gave the team the chance to learn about and use open-source tooling being developed by the FHIR community, including the Clinical Quality Language extension for VS Code which executes Clinical Quality Language (CQL) queries, and the Inferno Health API Testing Framework to generate test suites for FHIR servers. As Tim was able to successfully run a test suite against the FHIR server in the Bellese Sandbox, the Inferno Framework presented itself as a handy tool that may find its way into a deployment pipeline for FHIR servers at Bellese.
The team also had the opportunity to float around to other tracks and attend breakout sessions, gaining exposure to developments in other FHIR domains. In addition to the more technical sessions, there were opportunities to soak in broad contextual knowledge and ask first-time-attendee questions. For instance, the Patient Track provided participants with a friendly introduction to FHIR, and used simple scenarios for testing and exploring foundational concepts. This track allowed people from a variety of backgrounds to get involved in the Connectathon, including clerical workers, data analysts, and doctors/providers.
After two full days of drinking from the FHIR-hose, all three learned a lot about FHIR, the Connectathon testing process and, most importantly, established relationships with many members of the passionate FHIR community. The next HL7 FHIR Connectathon will be held in New Orleans, LA on May 6-7th. We hope to see you there!