Come and Catch FHIR at HHS on April 1st

On April 1st, the HHS IDEA Lab is hosting Day One of a two-day HL7 FHIR Code-a-thon event that is a precursor to the Health Datapalooza being held in May 8-11th. The FHIR Code-a-thon is shaping up to be an exciting event! We cannot wait for it, but we are still looking for developers from Federal and State-based organizations, entrepreneurs, individuals from startups and research organizations, and YOU to join us and dream up the next generation of apps to help Medicare beneficiaries better manage their health, share their information with their doctors, care team, caregivers, or enable them to contribute their claims information to research. Need convincing? Or an introduction to what it’s all about? Let us tell you in the form of a Q&A:

What the heck is the FHIR Code-a-thon and why do I care?

The purpose of the FHIR Code-a-thon is to encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to come together to create applications that will enable Medicare beneficiaries to put their Medicare claims data to good use, for their own health, or for the benefit of research.

What could we do with this Medicare data?

The CMS Blue Button API will provide Patient and Claim information. This data could be “mashed up” with other data sources. For example, using diagnosis codes in claims to look up information about a condition. The cost information in the claims might be used to make supplementary insurance recommendations to the beneficiary. A research application might ask a beneficiary to donate their claims information to a research project. This is the point of a Code-a-thon – inventive minds coming together with different experience and developing new approaches to tackle problems or even completely new applications to benefit consumers.

OK, thanks for clarifying. But I’m no expert in this space, so I’m not sure I want to join.

Yeah, we get this a lot! Some people have asked if you need to be a healthcare expert, or understand the intricacies of the FHIR Specification in order to participate in the Code-a-thon. The answer is an emphatic NO!   We encourage people with expertise from other industries to bring insights and perspectives that foster innovation to provide a broader point of view.. We have a FHIR Education session planned that will give you the basics you need to know to work with the FHIR API. The information pages for will also help you prepare for the event. Check out the pages at Also don’t forget that everyone at sometime is, was, or will be a patient. So we all bring insights and perspectives that represent the patient point-of-view.

What can I expect at the Code-A-Thon?

You will get the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people that are interested in using technology for better health. Susannah Fox, the Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services and leader of the IDEA Lab, will kick off the event.  Susannah will highlight how FHIR is being adopted across the federal health agencies in order to solve integration and interoperability challenges. Christine Cox, Deputy Director of the Office of Enterprise Data & Analytics at CMS and a key member of the Blue Button on FHIR Team, will outline the strides CMS has taken to upgrade the Blue Button experience for Medicare beneficiaries. She will also introduce the prototype CMS Blue Button On FHIR data Application Program Interface (API). This will be a synthetic data API with thousands of claims records and will be available to teams at the Code-a-thon to create innovative applications to help Medicare beneficiaries and researchers. Chuck Jaffe, CEO of HL7 International, will be leading a team of prominent FHIR Community experts in a FHIR education session. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about how FHIR works from some of the foremost experts in the FHIR community. Even if you do not plan to form a coding team at the Code-a-thon, this one hour education session is worth attending for anyone even vaguely interested in the FHIR specification. After these introductory sessions teams will settle down to develop solutions that will utilize the CMS Blue Button On FHIR data API to help Medicare beneficiaries, their caregivers, or care teams manage their health more effectively, or enable them to donate their Medicare claims information to research. Teams from the Platinum sponsors (Surescripts and, Inc.) and Gold sponsors (Edifecs, HHS IDEA Lab, Medfusion, NavHealth Inc., The Advisory Board Company, and NewWave Telecoms and Technologies) will be available to provide advice about the FHIR related tools, services and APIs they have available, all of which can be used to supplement or integrate into the solutions that the teams of coders are working on during the event.

For the detailed agenda including specific times, check out this webpage.

What’s this about a Day Two?

On Saturday morning teams will meet at 1776, a DC-based tech incubator, to continue their development work. On Saturday afternoon the sponsors will be judging the results of the teams’ work. The winning team will receive $3,000 and the second place team $1,000. The winner will also be invited to showcase their work at Health Datapalooza in May.

OK, now I’m intrigued. Who can join? What’s it gonna cost me?

The FHIR Code-a-thon is open to anyone. There is a nominal fee for non-government employees.

If I have any further questions…


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.