Playing with FHIR: A Success for Our First FHIR Connectathon

By Liz Buckle, Director of Product, CommonWell Health Alliance
Twitter: @CommonWell

Recently, CommonWell hosted our first FHIR Connectathon under the working premise that the best way to figure out what we don’t know is to get our hands dirty and start testing. Participants included 11 of our Service Adopters: athenahealth, Cancer Insights, Cerner, Health Gorilla, Inovalon, MEDHOST, MEDITECH, Oprable, Patientory, Seqster and WellSky. We ran three testing tracks, all with the primary goal of expanding our reach into the FHIR space.

There were three main goals that I personally had set forth for the Alliance to address as a part of this concerted testing effort:

  1. Test work that had been developed but not yet released
  2. Gather feedback to inform technical Service Provider of any enhancements or defects to address for future development
  3. Increase participation within the Alliance community to test out new features and functionality

In reality, we wanted to stop talking and stop writing for a bit and connect our systems and test. The tracks that we tested out had been bounced around within Committees for months and it was time for the rubber to meet the road. We tested a lot, learned a lot, had successes, found issues to resolve and came together as a community to continue the spirit of the Alliance.

Check out some insights from service adopters who participated and from the Office of the National Coordinator, which observed the event, below. You can also read about key insights and wins from each testing track on my LinkedIn post.

The Connectathon was an exciting opportunity for MEDITECH to help lead the way, working in tandem with CommonWell to push FHIR scalability and inform the entire industry. It was exciting to have the ONC present to observe our cutting-edge technology and to hear our vision, which includes Secure Dynamic Client Registration and adoption and testing of the Security for Scalable Registration, Authentication, and Authorization STU1 Implementation Guide. It is this vision that can help drive the FHIR road map in TEFCA.

Jason Vogt, Senior Technical Project Manager, APIs and Structured Documents, MEDITECH

For Track 1, we were able to complete FHIR R4 document retrieval from multiple service adopters. Additionally, for track 2, we were able to leverage the CommonWell Record Locator Service to match and locate the FHIR server for the test patient, successfully register and authorize via dynamic client registration and authorization using UDAP Security workflow and ultimately query the patient discrete data such as labs, medications, allergies etc. Overall, through this connectathon, CommonWell provided a very collaborative and cooperative forum for us to contribute to the network and to learn from other participants, and we are excited to be able to implement this in the near future!

—Ardy Arianpour, CEO & Co-Founder, Seqster

ONC appreciated the opportunity to observe one of the first examples of the deployment of FHIR by a nationwide health information network. Efforts like this provide valuable implementation experience that can inform the development and use of standards for scaling FHIR, such as the Security IG for authentication and authorization workflows developed by the FHIR at Scale Taskforce (FAST).

—Alex Kontur, Public Health Analyst, Office of National Coordinator for Health IT, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CommonWell has two key areas of focus for the remainder of 2022 – continuing to evolve and strengthen how we use FHIR to enhance clinical data exchange, and evaluating how, when, and possibly most importantly, why we should become a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) under the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). But more to come on that later!

Stay tuned. There’s a lot to be excited about here at CommonWell.

This article was originally published on Commonwell Health Alliance and is republished here with permission.