HL7 FHIR International Connectathon #24 Report

HL7 FHIR International Connectathon #24 Report

A virtual edition of the tri-annual HL7 FHIR International Connectathon was held over a continual two day period, from 20:00 UTC on Wednesday 13th May to 22:00 UTC on Friday 15th May. This was a resounding success with 677 official participants (plus the odd guest) covering 35 tracks. General sessions were held over a GoTo Meeting, each track had its own Zoom Meeting Address and, as ever, the Zoom Chat site was extremely busy throughout.

Obviously, time differences were a challenge for some participants – particularly in the US-centric tracks, and I think that David Hay found this a constraint on the FHIR Shorthand Track. However, I believe that a combination of time-shifting and long hours worked well for most international (i.e. non-USA) attendees. I was a Co-Leader of the Terminology Services Track where Zoom sessions were attended by US, European, Indian and Anzac representatives. Certainly, it was easier to facilitate break-out sessions virtually than competing for booking slots in a restricted number of conference rooms and we had some productive discussions.

Naturally, providing COVID-19 concepts was a major topic for both terminologists and API implementers. The later were able to present the new LOINC Special Use codes and Answers plus Reference Sets from the new SNOMED International Implementation Guide see here. Several SNOMED members have already created national extensions for COVID-19 concepts; the USA ones can be viewed on the COVID-19 Interoperability Alliance Web Site. Hopefully these will be promoted to the next version of the International Edition.

The event was particularly successful from an education viewpoint (along with testing the specification and implementations, one of the 3 main objectives) a report describing the activity from each track could be found here.

The big question is whether this will now be the preferred means of delivering FHIR Connectathons – both internationally and locally (a question I’ve been asked many times)? I did miss the cross-track conversations and in-person networking – but maybe not the 24 journey, jet lag and hotel food! David made a good point that advance preparation is even more crucial to the success virtual events so, when we are all able to travel internationally again, maybe the organisers should have the final say!

Peter Jordan, Chairman, HL7 New Zealand

19th May, 2020

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