HL7’s Working Group meeting is coming to Canada from May 4 to 10, hosted at Le Sheraton Centre, Montreal. This presents a wonderful opportunity for Canadians to get up to speed on healthcare interoperability standards, and in particular, the one that’s starting to re-shape the healthcare industry – FHIR.

HL7’s Working Group meeting consists of several components: the FHIR connectathon, HL7 education, working group sessions and Clinicians on FHIR.

The Connectathon

Montreal will be the 21st HL7-hosted FHIR connectathon. Connectathons provide two solid days of hands-on FHIR experience for software developers. The last connectathon in Baltimore had almost 300 participants. Attendees join one of many tracks covering a variety of interoperability topics from clinical genomics to questionnaires to wound assessment. A complete list of the 28 proposed tracks can be found here. The event runs from 9 a.m. until you decide to quit on Saturday (we officially end at 5 p.m., and most people have usually left by 9 or 10 p.m.); then we do the same from 9-5 on Sunday.

The connectathon gives developers a chance to test their software with other implementers and get support from authors of the specification, those who create the open source reference implementations and servers that form the basis of many solutions. It also provides a chance to give feedback on the standard and draft implementation guides and to build relationships with others in the community who are working with FHIR in the same way you are. Connectathons are an essential driver for the evolution of the FHIR standard.

HL7 Education

Working Group meetings attract a wide range of international standards experts and HL7 leverages this expertise by offering a range of tutorials. Twenty-four are on offer in Montreal, covering such topics as SMART and CDS Hooks, using SNOMED, mapping v2 and CDA to FHIR, etc. A complete list can be found here.

While HL7 does provide webinar-based training, it doesn’t provide the same breadth and depth of educational opportunity as the face-to-face sessions offered at a working group meeting. As well, the face-to-face training gives you a chance to talk to the presenter at breaks and after the session to explore questions related to your own implementation.

The Working Group

The Working Group starts on Sunday with the International Council sharing information about what’s happening with HL7 throughout HL7’s 30+ international affiliates. It continues with parallel work group meetings in which participants advance the development of HL7 standards. Come participate in the review of feedback on implementation guide ballots, listen to plans for new standards capabilities, and meet those who help to drive the standards evolution so you can feel more comfortable asking questions of them in the future.

The Working Group Meeting offers four quarters of 20+ parallel meetings, a range of breakfast and lunch meetings, and evening “birds of a feather” sessions, as well as cookie and coffee breaks that provide the opportunity to learn, network and influence the standards that are used to share healthcare information in Canada now and will be used in the years to come.

Clinicians on FHIR

The Working Group Meeting ends with a connectathon of a different sort. While the starting Connectathon is focused on software developers, Clinicians on FHIR is aimed at the clinical community and domain experts. Using a suite of tools aimed at the clinical community, clinicians team up to validate the FHIR specification.

Why you should attend

The last HL7 meeting in Canada was in May 2016 and we can’t likely expect another one until 2022 or later. Healthcare interoperability standards are changing dramatically with the advent of FHIR. It’s having a tremendous impact in the U.S. and in many other countries and it’s growing in popularity here in Canada. Now is the time to get up to speed and influence the standard before it fully permeates the Canadian space. The WGM offers an unparalleled opportunity to both learn and influence, so take advantage of it while it’s here. That’s especially true if you speak French: on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Gevity’s Frederic Laroche is teaching an Introduction to HL7 FHIR tutorial, the first-ever in French.

On May 7, also from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Gevity Senior Consultant Lloyd McKenzie is teaching a tutorial on Designing and Architecting HL7 FHIR Solutions. If you attend, please come by and say hello!

More information about the Montreal WGM including registration costs can be found on the HL7 website. The early-bird registration deadline is April 12.