Ana Castilho


IHE Connectathon. Is this a geeky marathon event?

It has to be for those who are enthusiastic about healthcare IT, aiming to make tech connections work. As a few people say, it is a “safe place to fail” (source: HIMSS News).

IHE Connectathons
IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) Connectathon aims to provide to an eHealth vendor an opportunity to test the interoperability of his product in a skilful environment. Participants use real clinical data following IHE set of requirements, where the IHE Integration Profiles are tested in the vendors’ product.

This IHE event takes place every year since 1999 in North America, Europe, PRC, Korea and Australia and 2014 was no exception. In Europe took place in Vienna (Austria) between 7 and 11 of April. It was 5 intensive days that our iUZers Marcelo Fonseca and Ivo Pinheiro had the opportunity to have, sharing experiences with over 350 industry-leading professionals.


A unique opportunity to test the interoperability using real world clinical scenarios. (source: IHE Europe)


But what is exactly a connectathon?

A Connectathon is an event concept invented in 1986 by Sun Microsystems, mainly focused on the application standards. This type of event is organized according with openness and sharing values to build a connection specification based on interoperability.

Main purpose?
To prove that the specification is complete as well as to prove that implementations written to that specification can ‘connect’. (Source: John Moehrke)


Back in April, Marcelo and Ivo participated in IHE Europe Connectathon 2014 – Viena. Look what Marcelo say about it:

1. In what consisted this event?

Marcelo: In a simplified way, the IHE Connectathon is a weeklong health-care oriented interoperability-testing event.

It is held annually in Asia, Europe and North America. During the Connectathon, systems exchange information with complementary systems from multiple vendors, performing all of the transactions required for the roles they have selected, called IHE Actors, and in support of defined clinical use cases, called IHE Profiles.

Thousands of vendor-to-vendor connections are tested overall, and tens of thousands of transactions are passed among the systems tested. The sponsoring organizations publish the results of this testing for public review after the Connectathon.

This event offers vendors a unique opportunity for connectivity testing—removing barriers to integration that would otherwise have to be dealt with on site, at the customer’s expense, for instance.

Other positive aspects include the on-site experience of knowledge sharing between participants, that share the same real problems and situations – those kind of opportunities do not happen frequently.

The 2014 Europe Connectathon was held in Vienna, Austria and the 2015 edition will be held in Luxembourg.

2. What meaning has to you being part of an event like this?

Marcelo: This is the 3rd IHE Connectathon that iUZ Team was present, preceded by “Bern 2012″ and “Istanbul 2013″.

In the 2012 edition, iUZ (as Portuguese Ministry of Health Technical Partner for epSOS) tested the Portuguese epSOS National Contact Point instance with success.

In 2013 edition, we were representing again the Portuguese epSOS NCP, but at that time as a supporting testing counterpart.

In last April, in the last edition, iUZ was present under the membership of epSOS Industry-Team, providing support to other epSOS test participants on-site. The level of meaningfulness, regarding the presence on such event, has increased from time to time – as we felt more experienced and mature on the IHE specification and testing ecosystem.

We always learn something new and meet someone new on every edition, confirming that these are unique moments at many levels that we should take advantage.

3. What type of personal and professional value have you reached with the participation in this event?

Marcelo: Regarding professional level, and considering the current phase of iUZ, the participation on such kind of events allowed us to have the right perspective and the right dimension to try to inspire and influence many of the technical choices performed at iUZ, under the eHealth interoperability theme.

To finalize, it is always an honor and a privilege to be a part of events of this nature.

 OpenNCP - epSOS (Group)

IHE Connectathon 2015 will be in Luxembourg (20-25 April). See you there?

Share your thought in the comments.

(Image: Flickr – Josiah Mackenzie)

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