The 2018 IHE-Europe Connectathon, held April 16-20 in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, was an unprecedented success on several levels. Health IT interoperability testing, always the foundation and primary purpose of IHE Connectathons, continued to expand in scope and volume. And the event drew more than 1,000 participants and attendees from across Europe and around the world to share information and promote standards-based interoperability. IHE Netherlands, hosts of the proceedings, engaged thought leaders and health authorities at the forefront in the use of electronic health records, including many from the home country.
The Connectathon was held in conjunction with Weekonnect, a three-day conference supported by the Dutch Ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport and Economic Affairs and Climate Policy focusing on the theme of “Secure and Reliable Data Exchange in Healthcare.” Speakers with experience in successful health IT initiatives explained how to collect and exchange data using standards-based methods that ensure security and data privacy. Several sessions also addressed the potential for using a model for standards adoption like that developed by IHE in other sectors, including energy, publishing, manufacturing and logistics.
The Connectathon also featured the annual IHE Symposium, held April 17, with the theme of “Getting the Basics Right, Key Success Factors in Interoperability.” The faculty included keynote presentations from Dutch Ministry of Health and European Union speakers, as well as leading clinical and industry experts. (The full program of session can be found here.) Attendees also received a VIP Tour of the Connectathon floor and learned about the processes used to test systems interoperability at the event.
Nearly 100 companies took part in the Connectathon testing this year, bringing over 120 systems and some 350 technicians for a full week of intensive peer-to-peer interoperability testing based on the detailed specifications provided by IHE profiles. A corps of 60 expert Connectathon monitors validated the results of testing, recording over 3,500 successfully completed tests, a new record for the IHE-Europe Connectathon.
Testing expanded into new areas this year, with new profiles in many IHE domains, including 21 new or updated profiles using the emerging HL7 FHIR® standards. Testing of profiles in the Eye Care domain was conducted for the first time ever at the IHE-Europe Connectathon. The expanded scope of testing also included the IHE mHealth Plugathon enabling developers of mobile health apps to access health information using APIs based on emerging standards.
Finally, testing related to two important European eHealth projects was successfully conducted in association with the Connectathon. These “Projectathons” assessed the interoperability and compliance of selected vendors with real-world scenarios being implemented by the Swiss Electronic Patient Record and the German Elecktronische FallAkte (EFA) programs.
Planning for the 2019 IHE-Europe Connectathon is already well underway. Next year’s event will be hosted in Rennes, France.