2015 Connectathon Countdown: Preparation Best Practices


This is the second in our series about success at the 2015 IHE Connectathon. If you haven’t read the first post about the urgency of registration (and getting that right), you really need to. Now. Really. (I’ll wait.)

Technical Preparation

Now that you have read that post and are hopefully in high gear on completing the Connectathon registration process, I want to share some best practices we have learned about preparing for the IHE Connectathon. Don’t forget to also consult the Connectathon 2013 Policies & Guidelines document, which has links to other valuable resources.

A main reason for going (but not the only reason) is to successfully demonstrate that your system conforms  to the requirements of your chosen profile(s). Investing enough time well ahead of the event is the best way to maximize the value you get out of Connectathon attendance. Here’s our prep checklist:

1. Start early

This may sound obvious, but it is impossible to overstate.

You will be shocked at how much work is required to close the gaps once you really get into this, so the sooner you dig into understanding how your system needs to be tweaked to actually play nice when interacting with other systems using the same profile, the sooner you will have a high level of confidence in how things will go on the testing floor.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Don’t wait on this. Start early. There is more to do than you currently realize.

2. Prioritize

I mentioned above that “testing success” is not the only reason to go to the Connectathon. One dimension of this from a technical perspective is that the inability to test every nuance of your profile(s) will not  render your Connectathon experience a failure. You will learn  a huge amount about the profile–and your product–even if you aren’t able to successfully test all of it. You do, of course, want to focus your testing efforts on the parts of the profile which are prerequisites to other parts, so you need to prioritize your efforts.

Create a plan of attack that reflects your testing priorities, and work that plan from top to bottom to keep your team focused on the right priorities.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Create a prioritized plan of attack.

3. Pre-test

This is not only a good idea; it’s a requirement, as summarized from the Connectathon site:

All participants are required to run a series of software tests in advance of the Connectathon.

This is pretty clear, eh? Better yet, pre-test beyond what IHE requires. That will help you minimize other problems you may encounter when you buddy-up with other participants for peer-to-peer testing at Connectathon. AEGIS happens to have a slick way to do this – the Developers Integration Lab (DIL). Check it out…

KEY TAKEAWAY: Complete the pre-testing process. (You have no choice.)

Social Preparation

Because the social interactions at the IHE Connectathon are so valuable, they merit a post of their own, which will wrap up this 3-part series. Until then, let’s cover a vital step to prepare for these interactions:

1. Find Profile Testing Partners (Now)

Don’t wait until you get to the Connectathon to find other teams who want to test against your profile(s) and know you are coming to do the same. Here’s why:

  • You won’t have time to do this during the event; you will most likely still be trying to polish the functionality you have been updating for the profile. (Seriously. Been there; done that. It’s not pretty.)
  • Your profile could be pulled if there aren’t a sufficient number of teams who have demonstrated that they are ready to test it. (This is even worse. Don’t risk this.)
    • Find out who else has signed up for your profile(s) by looking in Gazelle, then contact them.
    • Best practice: Coordinate a schedule with these profile testing partners so you can both make the best use of your time at the event.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Find profile testing partners. (Now.)

In the last installment in the series, we’ll spend more time exploring how to maximize the collaborative value of the Connectathon.

We really hope to see you in Cleveland in January. And when you do see us, be sure to ask us about our “Go Negative” campaign


About Richard Ettema

Mr. Ettema has more than three decades of experience in software architecture, engineering and consulting. His experience is in application architecture, agile methodologies and helping customers develop, implement and maintain best practices in enterprise software development. Mr. Ettema has worked with small to large private organizations as well as large government organizations developing health care, health insurance, telecom, order entry, customer call tracking, inventory management and financial management applications. Mr. Ettema is the author of AEGIS' public FHIR test client and server, WildFHIR; Senior Architect and Project Lead for AEGIS' FHIR Testing Platform, Touchstone.

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