Are you attending the Apps for Health & FHIR North Conference 2019 on Oct. 15-16 at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON? If you are interested in healthcare interoperability, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in excellent education and hands-on application sessions that show how FHIR and the supporting ecosystem of tools, servers and other technologies can help solve healthcare data exchange challenges.

This year’s FHIR North theme is how FHIR can be leveraged on “burning platforms” such as the Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) transformation initiative.

What is the format for FHIR North?

FHIR North is broken up into three components: FHIR Academy, CodeCamp: Essentials, and CodeCamp: Advanced.

Why this is the year to attend FHIR North

When Gevity first started writing about the healthcare data exchange standard FHIR in 2012, it was widely thought that while this new standard was interesting, it wouldn’t replace the current approaches to interoperability.

Today, the FHIR standard has become ubiquitous to the point where it’s rare to hear a healthcare interoperability conversation that doesn’t make mention of FHIR. The latest version of FHIR (R4) marks the most stable and accessible release to date. In January 2019, much of the base platform of FHIR reached normative maturity, meaning organizations can implement those core components of FHIR into their products without the fear that future releases could jeopardize the conformance of their implementation. Canada leads the world in the number of nationally scoped FHIR projects, with 10 national projects recognized by HL7… a number that is likely to grow in the next year as projects are added to the Canadian FHIR registry in the wake of the R4 release. For national projects, Canada is trailed by the United Kingdom (six national projects) and the United States (four national projects). So, if your organization is on the fence about starting your FHIR journey, there has never been a better time to learn about FHIR from industry leaders and fellow implementors.

You’ll also have the chance to network with others who may have faced the same technology challenges that you or your organization face and can share their approach and solutions.

What’s new at this year’s event

The Ontario healthcare system is undergoing a major transformation with the province-wide establishment of health teams (groups of providers and organizations that are clinically and fiscally accountable for delivering a coordinated continuum of care to a defined geographic population). With major transformation efforts looming, it only made sense to include OHTs as a lens to examine the applicability of FHIR and other international standards. FHIR Academy presentations and CodeCamp sessions will focus on the data exchange requirements and architectural models that will help support patients (and their personal health information) move seamlessly through various parts of the healthcare system and interact with a host of healthcare providers and organizations.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, we’ll also be adding a new spin to CodeCamp this year. In addition to offering guided sessions on advanced topics like SMART-on-FHIR, FHIRcast, and Clinical Decision Support (CDS) Hooks, we’ll also be offering a new track called CodeCamp: Essentials. This new track offers an open hacking format that connects participants to available toolkits and fellow collaborators so they have the solid foundation of skills and knowledge needed to build, test and validate in FHIR. Interested in connecting over a specific tool or test suite? Come to one of our “mini sessions” meant to connect you with the vendors and tool providers that are there to help you spend less time troubleshooting tools and more time hacking health IT solutions.

Another exciting event at this year’s conference will be a panel discussion on how global standards organizations (such as HL7, IHE, ISO, and the Joint Initiative Council) can work together to ensure data sets like the International Patient Summary deliver maximum value by maintaining interoperability across standards. Standards stewards from around the world will chime in on what elements of the International Patient Summary can be reused to traverse cross-care team, cross-province, and cross-border boundaries in health information sharing. Want to learn more? Check out the HL7 IPS specification, the CEN IPS specification and the Joint Initiative Council guidance on the Patient Summary Standards Set.

We are also thrilled to announce that we will be showcasing implementations that use other aspects of the FHIR ecosystem, such as SMART on FHIR, FHIRcast, and Clinical Decision Support (CDS) Hooks. Collectively, these technologies support even greater integration between disparate applications to provide end users with a more fluid and simplified experience.

What’s staying the same

Of course, this year’s event will continue to focus on education, with FHIR Academy presentations and advanced hands-on coding tutorials (CodeCamp) led by Lloyd McKenzie, a senior consultant at Gevity, Smile CDR co-founder James Agnew, and more. You can find me at the CodeCamp Essentials track, showcasing tools and discussing tips and tricks that helped me find my way through the dark when I first started working in FHIR.

Who should attend

FHIR North draws in participants from both business and technical backgrounds (i.e., IT Directors, CTO, CIOs, Managers, Business Analysts, Developers, Standards Analysts, etc.). If you’re someone who is experiencing real-world interoperability challenges and wants to learn more about FHIR and the supporting ecosystem of tools and technology that can reduce or resolve data exchange pain points, this event is a must-attend. If you are a senior IT or business leader responsible for streamlining care coordination, integrating with provincial digital health assets, or future-proofing your current architecture, come join us!

Want to learn more? Contact me at