The IHE Connectathon took place last week in Chicago. It is an annual event where Health Information Technology vendors gather to test their adherence to IHE Integration Profiles. The newly-incorporated IHE uses existing HIT standards to develop Integration Profiles, which are basically workflows that use standards to solve specific interoperability use cases.
Last Step in the Cycle
Developing these Integration Profiles is a year-long process. IHE engages a diverse set of HIT stakeholders in this process, not just vendors. IHE defines the process in these four steps:
- Clinical and technical experts define critical use cases for information sharing.
- Technical experts create detailed specifications for communication among systems to address these use cases, selecting and optimizing established standards.
- Industry implements these specifications called IHE Profiles in HIT systems.
- IHE tests vendors’ systems at carefully planned and supervised events called “Connectathons.”
Not Just a Demonstration
Connectathon is not a demonstration or a trade show. Vendors’ adherence to IHE Integration Profiles is tested. Generally speaking, there are no sales people or prospects in the room. It is mostly Connectathon monitors and vendors’ technical people.
An important outcome of this highly-integrated testing is a fine tuning of the Integration Profiles. There’s nothing like the real world to learn about specifications. Connectathon is not the real world, but it does bring vendors together in the same (large) room with real systems to exercise the profiles.
Not only are the profiles exercised, but the systems are tested too. This is a great opportunity for vendors to test their interoperability features without risking customers’ production systems to do so.
The integration profiles are open and available on IHE’s website to everyone. Since this is the extent of the testing, there are no proprietary information or non-disclosure agreements to hamper cooperation between the vendors. Everyone works together for a common purpose.
Each transaction you send/receive in support of a profile will need to be demonstrated in at least one test. Some must be tested in multiple tests that touch different aspects and/or options of a profile. Each test must be run with one, two, or three partners. So, you can see that if you test multiple profiles, the number of individual tests you run can get large quickly. It’s important to control the scope of your testing and bring enough people to get all the tests done before the end of the week.
Sometimes problems are encountered which eat up some of your testing time. Sometimes you have to schedule with your prospective vendor partners to run tests. Time management is very important.
So, why should you go to Connectathon? You should attend if you want to help fine-tune IHE’s Integration Profiles. You should also attend to test your systems’ support of IHE Integration Profiles with other HIT systems in a cooperative environment. IHE also conducts an Interoperability Showcase at the HIMSS annual conference. To participate in that, you must test successfully at Connectathon.
Go to www.ihe.net for more information. Here you will find links to information about IHE, Connectathon, the Integration Profiles, and everything else IHE-related.
Latest posts by Ben Levy (see all)
- IHE IT Infrastructure Work Items Selected - November 14, 2014
- Less Than One Week Remains to Provide Input for IHE ITI Supplements - June 30, 2014
- IHE Connectathon – A Chance to Test Interoperability - January 25, 2011