HL7 FHIR Implementer Certification…Coming Soon


FHIRThis past October at the 30th Annual HL7® Plenary, Working Group Meeting and FHIR® Connectathon 14 event, I realized it was my three-year anniversary of attendance. True, that may not sound like a long time to those seasoned HL7 veterans but my focus has been and remains the HL7 FHIR specification. And, when you consider that FHIR has been on the healthcare scene for only a little over five years, I now kind of think of myself as a FHIR veteran.

I started my involvement with FHIR based on a directive from my boss, Mario Hyland (@interopguy), who said (para-phrased) “This FHIR thing looks like it may be catching on. Build me a FHIR server and let’s go to the next Connectathon.” That was just one month before Connectathon 4. That server I wrote became and remains one of the first publicly available FHIR test servers, WildFHIR. Our AEGIS FHIR Team has expanded during this time and we now host one of the few online, publicly available FHIR testing platforms, The Touchstone Project which has now been featured at the last five (5) Connectathon events. I have been and continue to be an active contributor/committer to the FHIR specification and am regularly involved with several HL7 working groups, primarily FHIR Infrastructure.

Wait a minute… What does all my background with FHIR have to do with FHIR certification? Well, I’m glad you asked. It was at this past October’s HL7 meeting that I learned about the efforts of Grahame Grieve and the FHIR Management Team to establish a certification exam* with the help of contributors from the FHIR Core Team. Per Grahame this exam is intended to be difficult, so it will be open book; i.e. access to the specification web site will be provided along with one FHIR test server. I was very interested and wanted to participate and felt very qualified and up to the task.

*Disclaimer – The FHIR Certification exam was and is still in beta. Access to the exam is highly restricted as the FHIR Management Team seeks to transition this effort to HL7 Education.

I soon found out that the exam was by invitation only and approached Grahame with my interest. I was approved and soon found myself with access to the exam.

Ok. How hard could this be? I have 3+ years of FHIR experience. I am the author and architect of a well-known FHIR Test Server and FHIR Testing Platform. It’s an open book test. Let’s go!

Well, remember what Grahame said? The intent is to be difficult. When I received my instructions, my first reminder of this was the passing mark or percentage – 90%. And those questions… All provided by contributors from the FHIR Core Team. Nevertheless, on I went.

I am happy to report that, yes, I did pass. Although, not with my expected breeze through all the questions. (I just passed.) My take away: the questions were comprehensive, encompassing and not for the faint of heart. No matter how long you’ve been working with the specification this exam will challenge you and reveal your true knowledge and experience with FHIR. And really, isn’t that what a certification exam should do?

It may be beta right now but I’m proud to be able to call myself a FHIR Certified Implementer – one of only about a dozen in the world today.

Where do we go from here? Based on my current knowledge, an official version of this exam should be available later this year. I’ll be tracking its progress and report back as soon as there’s more to tell. In the meantime, for those interested and wanting to prepare for taking this exam when it’s ready, I highly recommend:

  • Check out HL7’s FHIR Training and all the online resources on the FHIR Wiki
  • Attend the FHIR Connectathon events (if you haven’t already)
  • Dive in and start implementing (the best way to learn is by doing)
  • When you’re ready to test out your implementation, remember TDD – Test Driven Development – with Touchstone to accelerate your efforts towards FHIR conformance

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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