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IHE North American Connectathon 2018: Advancing Interoperability Through Collaboration

2018 marks the 19th year for the IHE North American (NA) Connectathon sponsored by IHE USA, a HIMSS sponsored organization. The event brought together health IT vendors, government agencies and technology users in a unique setting where all professions – despite differences in the scope of their work – could connect as a group to network, brainstorm and ultimately work together to advance the adoption of more interoperable health IT systems.

The week-long event has come a long way in its nearly two decades of existence. In the late 1990s, HIMSS and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) began addressing the challenges associated with information sharing between physicians and hospitals. In 1997, the RSNA and HIMSS create a nonprofit organization focused on advancing health information exchange through interoperability. Called Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, or IHE, the organization began hosting testing events in a parking garage until it evolved into IHE’s large-scale testing and educational experience that it is today.

IHE NA Connectathon Recap

This year, there were nearly 500 participants in all the events, including corporate and government organizations, plus implementers and health IT executives. The breadth of testing programs, educational events and networking taking place at the IHE NA Connectathon continues to grow. Attendees had the opportunity to:

• Collaborate with 500 of the industry’s brightest engineers and 63 organizations to advance interoperability on the IHE NA Connectathon testing floor

• Discover new testing programs, including ConCert by HIMSS® and the Immunization Integration Program

• Learn about adoption and implementations of IHE with stories from implementers of IHE Profiles, including The Sequoia Project, eHealth Exchange and the Strategic Heath Information Exchange Collaborative’s (SHIEC) Patient Centered Data Home

• Enrich their knowledge of today’s disruptive health IT including Internet of Things – Medical, Blockchain – Healthcare, mHealth and Devices on FHIR® and speak with leading experts in these areas

 

The IHE NA Connectathon’s Overall Impact

We were delighted to work collaboratively with more than 500 engineers to test interoperable capabilities of their health IT systems, with over 100 IHE profiles made available for testing.

With over 90 individual systems tested on-site, the results of these efforts will affect the development hundreds of vendor products. These testing efforts accumulated to a total of approximately $3 million.

What’s especially unique about the IHE Connectathon experience is the space it provides for hundreds of product managers, engineers, developers and standards experts testing code together, that would otherwise take months to do. Participant backgrounds extend far outside the U.S., travelling from Asia, Europe and Australia to join forces to test the interoperability of their systems in a collaborative yet, safe and rigorous testing environment. The benefit of a face-to-face testing with such a wide-ranging health IT systems and stakeholders is truly invaluable and exponentially advances our access to patient medical records anytime and anywhere in the U.S. or globally.

Held within the IHE NA Connectathon, the IHE NA Plug-a-Thon was created as an outlet to connect legacy systems in hospitals with the latest devices and emerging technology including Internet of Things – Medical, Blockchain – Healthcare, mHealth and Devices on FHIR®. The IHE Plug-a-thon accelerated the awareness and utilization of emerging technology that will affect the future of healthcare.

All in all, the IHE NA Connectathon 2018 proved to be a major success, and we’re already looking forward to seeing the further advancements in interoperability at next year’s event – January 21-25, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio again! Learn more about the IHE NA Connectathon and highlights from this year.

 

At the 2018 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, 75 related health IT systems will be available for attendees to explore on the exhibitor floor. Be sure to check out the digital innovation in action at the HIMSS18 Interoperability Showcase™ taking place March 5 – 8, on level 1, Hall G, Booth #11955 at HIMSS18.