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The overall aim of the Connection is to improve the quality of the FHIR specification, by implementing it, and testing it out by connecting to other people’s software. We discover what works and what does not, and the specification is either updated or affirmed. The different Connectathon tracks focus on different areas. Draft FHIR resources need to be implemented in order to advance their level of maturity and move to being a completed part of the FHIR standard. Connectathons that exercise these resources are a key way to get them further along in their approval cycle.

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What is the aim for an individual participant?

Participants join tracks and work with others to test out and improve the FHIR specification.

Each track will have certain aims it wants to achieve. For individuals, everyone will judge success themselves. It may be proving your software works against another vendor, in a semi-formal manner, or adding a new enhancement to your working code. It may be testing a new FHIR resource that is relevant to you, to help move it along in published maturity - which may be important for your stakeholders. Or it may be the case of showing up as a beginner and getting your very first lines of FHIR code working.

 

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difference
What’s the difference between a participant and an observer?

A Connectathon is a working meet-up to test out the FHIR specification by implementing it. So, the aim is to write and test working software, or to work on the standards in a technical review capacity. If you are a non-coding project manager or team leader, and won’t be working on reviews, you would probably be an Observer.

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There is usually a pre-Connectathon web-based survey, which registered participants will be emailed a few days prior to the event. This asks some basic questions that help the organizers and is also where you can select your Connectathon track. If for some reason you miss this, you can always join a track later. It’s preferable to pre-register for a track, but you can always just show up and introduce yourself.

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Bear in mind that you will be on a hotel network, possibly with less bandwidth than usual and a different firewall situation. Also see “What networks...What networks are available?” below.

 

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tracks
tracks
What are “tracks”?

These are the subject oriented workstreams, that divide up the different activities happening during the sessions. Connectathon tracks are the “working groups” that take on a specific part of FHIR and examine it, write code for it and so on. There is a Track Lead, who facilitates the tracks and sets goals for the track, which may be decided on the day or published in advance.

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Tracks are quite informal. They usually correspond to a table or two in the room. You can sit at the table (or nearby) and do your work for it, or stop by and see what the track is doing. No one will mind if you don’t achieve what you aim for or want to change to another track. However, the group may be planning to achieve certain things, and it’s good for people to commit and help those goals be hit.

 

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pick-track
Do I need to pick a track? In advance? How?

All Connectathon work takes place on a track, so you should choose one to take part in and contribute to. In theory you could just do your own FHIR work, but the idea is to collaborate and that happens on the tracks.

The list of tracks is published on the HL7 Confluence site in the weeks leading up to the Connectathon, see https://confluence.hl7.org/display/FHIR/Connectathons then the link for the upcoming meeting. There is also likely to be discussion on Zulip (chat.fhir.org). For both see “What What are the key online resources”, below.

Find the list of tracks and chose one that you are interested in and can help out with. You don’t need to be an expert in that area, just willing to learn and be useful. The actual track registration is done via the pre-Connectathon survey that is circulated, but you can always get in touch with the Track Lead, or just show up. Choosing a track does not commit you to staying with it for the entire event. While it is preferable to focus on one track, there is nothing to stop you from finding another that suits you better.

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The Connectathon is all about testing out the FHIR specification, in actual use. That means coding, running and testing FHIR applications. Writing software is key to this and is one of the main activities of the Connectathon. Coding is not mandatory but is usual and is encouraged. Some people bring existing code and some start from scratch. But there are also non-coding software integration tasks such as testing and configuration (and to a lesser extent analysis). People also contribute to FHIR at Connectathons by spending time reviewing, learning and commenting on the FHIR specification - this is welcome and appreciated. If you don’t wish to write code or work on related technical activities, consider attending as an Observer.

 

How experienced with code should I be (I’m a code beginner / It’s been years since I coded etc)?

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It is possible to do more than one, but this needs some care. Tracks want to achieve as much as possible in a certain domain area. Usually there is a lot more work possible than can be done in two days so it is unlikely that the track will finish all its work, allowing everyone to do something else. Two days goes by very quickly, and with some inevitable time for re-work etc, it is hard to truly contribute to more than one track.

 

Does everyone in my

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organization need to do the same track?

No, not at all. Divide up your efforts as you wish.

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At most Connectathons there is a Patient track. This has pre-listed goals, such as “read a patient from a server, make a change and save it back”. This is suitable for FHIR beginners, who can write code. Since the Patient resource is well established and is less in need of feedback and bug testing, this is in effect just a learning track. Check beforehand to see if this track is occurring. The Confluence pages have the list of tracks - see section “What What are the key online resources?

 

What if I don’t succeed in finishing my track?

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A light buffet breakfast is provided before the sessions, and lunch, also mid-morning drinks and an afternoon cookie break. Evening food is not provided.

 

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networks
What networks are available?

The network will just be the hotel wi-fi, but possibly with a dedicated non-public part, and sometimes with the ability to see other devices within it (unlike a normally locked down network). But it is still hotel wi-fi, so may be slower or different to back at the office. There is not usually any VPN use or requirement for it.

 

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online-resources
What are the key online resources?

The Connectathon makes heavy use of the usual FHIR online areas, that you will want to get familiar with:

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