The IHE Connectathon event for 2012 was held in Chicago last week. Connectathon allows vendors from healthcare IT to test their ability to support IHE profiles, which are critical to standardizing communications across HIEs, ACOs, and across regions. Here are a few observations from my first-time participation at Connectathon:
It was apparent from the attendance at Connectathon that there is broad-based buy-in from the healthcare IT industry. Critical mass has definitely been achieved. From large HIS vendors, to EHR vendors, to integration engines, to those targeted specifically at HIE solutions, everyone who is anyone in healthcare IT was represented at Connectathon 2012.
Replicating the Health IT Environment
The detail that went into closely replicating a real-world healthcare IT environment was reassuring. From a mock Web-based patient registration tool, to simulating multiple registries throughout a region, every effort was made to present an environment that posed similar connectivity challenges to those in a real-world setting.
When appropriate, testing also required verification across multiple partners, helping to ensure that the connections would be robust enough to be implemented in a variety of settings.
Increasing the Expectations
Hurdles for passing many of the tests seem to be increasing and becoming more difficult. In particular, we observed that some of our tests that passed in 2011, failed in 2012 using the same exact solution. This is because verification tools are becoming more robust and checking for more criteria every year. Some of the long-time participants commented that the criteria and number of enforced items has become more stringent every year.
IHE Connectathon is a positive happening within the healthcare IT industry. It is a time when competitive vendors can put aside their differences and join together to ensure that interoperability is progressing forward for the good of the industry. We tested with our competitors, they offered some advice and troubleshooting, and we did the same.
Competitors will vigorously compete for business every day of the year, but it was refreshing to see a week put aside to advance industry connectivity.