I had the honour of presenting at the 2020 FHIR North Conference. My topic was on FHIR & DICOM, where I began by giving a formal introduction to DICOM as it is used in medical imaging, then segued into how DICOM integrates with FHIR to compliment the patient record – marrying images with clinical records. The session also covered basic interactions between FHIR and DICOMweb to query for and retrieve imaging studies. For those of you with a conference pass, you can view my recorded presentation here: https://pheedloop.com/fhirnorth2020/virtual/?page=sessions&section=IcWqet

In addition to presenting, I was able to attend a number of sessions at the conference. Here is a list of some that I found particularly interesting:

  • James Agnew’s Intro to FHIR: James is a very engaging speaker and this talk informative while also being easy to follow. Highly recommended for those new to FHIR.
  • Opening Keynote: Advancing Interoperability for the Public Good: Didi Davis talked about the Sequoia Project leading the development of a framework to bridge old and new technologies and ease the transition.
  • Ontario’s COVID Response: This presentation covered a number of topics related to Ontario’s COVID-19 efforts, but I was intrigued by how the online portal, where individuals can retrieve their COVID-19 test results, was constructed using FHIR and Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS).
  • International Patient Summary – Ready for Prime-time: Gave an enlightening overview of the IPS, a health record extract, comprising a standardized collection of clinical and contextual information (retrospective, concurrent, prospective) that provides a snapshot in time of a subject of care’s health information and healthcare.
  • Structured Data Capture (SDC): A topic I have been intermittently following ever since I came to know about it when Alex Goel did a project related to it at the SIIM Hackathon, based on his experience at Cancer Care Ontario. On a related note, Alex was featured in a SIIMcast podcast episode that you can find here: https://siimcast.libsyn.com/synoptic-reporting-with-alex-goel
  • Modernizing Data Submissions in Home and Continuing Care Sector: Talked about how Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has embarked on modernizing its data collection system to leverage the HL7 FHIR standard to provide a unified specification for submission of interRAI data.

I was a first-timer at the September 2020 HL7 FHIR Connectathon, formally known as Connectathon 25. I will start by admitting the experience was a little overwhelming. For a brand-new attendee, the virtual format didn’t lend itself well to make my experience easier – nothing like being able to walk up to another participant and strike a conversation like you can do in a face to face setting. 

I came into the connectathon with a little FHIR prototype that I had built, which I was hoping to put through its paces at the connectathon. While that, unfortunately, did not quite pan out, I still found the connectathon to be interesting and hope to return to another FHIR connectathon before too long. The FHIR community has an amazing culture – everyone is very smart yet down to earth and welcoming. 

Connectathon 25 had a lengthy list of tracks (see: https://confluence.hl7.org/display/FHIR/2020-09+Connectathon+25), not to mention the educational sessions. There was a flurry of activity for each stream plus in the Zulip chat. I was particularly interested in the v2-to-FHIR track, Google was one of the participants and they had cooked up a pretty cool ETL pipeline that can map v2 to FHIR data in a very flexible manner, see https://github.com/GoogleCloudPlatform/healthcare-data-harmonization.

I might not have been able to accomplish what I set out to do but I certainly made up for it by learning a ton of new things about FHIR, observing others and also my favourite FHIR library, HAPI. I look forward to being a part of a future FHIR connectathon!