Health Interoperability
12 Min Read

FHIR DevDays 2024 Highlights

Rien Wertheim

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The FHIR community recently got together for 4 days in sunny Minneapolis for the 10th year of the biggest FHIR only event in the world, HL7 FHIR DevDays, organized by Firely and HL7 International.

With 100+ speakers and 130+ sessions, it was one of our biggest DevDays yet! Impossible as it is to summarize the whole event, I’ve picked out a few of my highlights. 

A Decade of FHIR DevDays

10 years of DevDays! It’s incredible to see how much not just DevDays has grown over this time, but the whole FHIR community. It’s certainly a testament to the talent and dedication of the broader FHIR community. 

Our CTO Ewout Kramer and Microsoft’s Gino Canessa opened the event by reflecting on what has been achieved across the last decade.

They highlighted the parallel growth of FHIR DevDays and FHIR itself, showcasing the expanding community and increasing number of implementation guides as clear indicators of FHIR’s widespread adoption. 

DevDays wouldn’t be complete without some humor, as they amusingly portrayed the roles of the pragmatic European Head Nerd of Firely and the ever-optimistic American Chief Light-hearted Translation Specialist. 

For example, they reflected on ‘where are we now?’

Chief Light-hearted Translation Specialist Gino: “There’s so much to celebrate, just look at all the IGs we’ve published!”

Pragmatic Ewout: “Yes, we have a lot of implementation guides, but how many are compatible… or even implementable?”

Chief Light-hearted Translation Specialist Gino: “That is a good question, but one we have already started asking—and good news… we have identified the problem, with several larger “aligning” projects coming up! And with FHIR version R6, so many of your favorite resources will finally become normative. We’ve practically solved healthcare!”

Ewout and Gino reflecting on 10 years of DevDays

HL7 FHIR Hype Cycle Progress

DevDays is always a great way to measure the maturity of HL7 FHIR. So this year, we decided to put that to the test with a Gartner Hype Cycle pinboard to see how the community feels about FHIR’s progress. 

As you can see, DevDays attendees felt that FHIR, now over a decade old, is steadily progressing up the Slope of Enlightenment towards the Plateau of Productivity.

After an initial Peak of Inflated Expectations, the FHIR community (largely) feels that we have passed the Trough of Disillusionment and are making headway towards real solutions. 

It’s fantastic to see more and more real-world use cases and the positive sentiment around FHIR. However, FHIR is still relatively young and there’s still more we have to figure out about what it can and can’t be used for. 

Amara’s law states: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” Could it be that we’ve already reached the Slope of Enlightenment so early on into FHIR’s journey? A good question to revisit at DevDays 2025.

AI is the star guest

A frequent theme at this year’s DevDays has been the potential of AI and FHIR. There were many presentations discussing the different ways AI is beginning to shape the healthcare industry around the world. 

There are so many possible and exciting applications for the pairing of AI and FHIR. One example is its potential in unlocking evidence-based research and pulling it into processes that can be executed in healthcare. 

Josh Mandel did a lot of cool things with AI, including demoing what LLMs can make out of a raw data dump from his own Epic record. There was also a fantastic patient panel who shared insights on how they’re using AI to take more control over their own healthcare. Pros and cons are yet to be determined. 

While there was a lot of excitement about the potential impact AI and FHIR would have on one another—the HOW and extent to which this can be done still needs to be fleshed out. And as Keith Figlioli stressed in his keynote, we must prioritize AI governance as we head down that road.

Keith Figlioli presenting his 2024 DevDays keynote, “Technology Has Not Transformed Healthcare…Will That Change With AI?”

Inaugural Implementer Award  

One of the big highlights for me was the very first FHIR DevDays Implementer Award, which was created to recognize the real-world impact of the FHIR standard. When I mentioned Amara’s Law above, this is a key example of why we decided to introduce the award. 

The real value of technology is in its use. If it is not used, it can never be successful, however cool or cutting-edge it is. That is why the FHIR Implementer Award focuses on the actual use and benefits of the FHIR standard, not on its potential or hype. The criteria for the award are:  

  • Actual use in user numbers, API calls, data shipped from a to b, etc.  
  • Business value in saving money, time, bringing revenue, etc.  
  • Clinical value in improving patients’ lives and doctors’ workflows, etc.  

Out of the many applications Firely and HL7 received, two finalists were selected that demonstrated the best use of the FHIR standard.  

The winning project (as decided by the audience) was Healthier SG (Singapore) by Synapxe.

This was an impactful implementation of FHIR for the Singapore National Healthier SG Programme, empowering healthcare professionals and over 2 million residents with greater and easier access to their healthcare data.

Through their new national patient portal/mobile app (HealthHub), residents (900K active users) are now taking control of their own health. 

Synapxe‘s Victor Chai receiving the HL7 FHIR DevDays Implementer Award from HL7’s Daniel Vreeman

A very honorable mention goes to Healthy Reply & ARIA S.p.A. Lombardia for the impressive work on their Territory Digital Management System for the Lombardy Region.

They created a fully FHIR-based system to enable the integration between the regional public-health system and 94 healthcare providers (and 100K patients) from across the Lombardy region.

This has enabled providers to collect real-time data on home care service delivery, doctors to monitor care plan progress continuously, the monitoring of hospitals bed occupancy, and more. 

One of the DevDays participants said: “It’s great to see implementations of FHIR around the world”. We couldn’t agree more, and we hope to see a lot more of our community showcasing the true potential of FHIR in healthcare

Women for FHIR

We were very excited to have the Women for FHIR initiative return for its second year of inspiring and thought-provoking conversations. After the initiative was born at DevDays 2023, it’s exciting to see how much it’s grown this year. 

It was great to see so many attendees at the lunch and panel discussion, with a mix of women and supportive men. As one participant said, “we didn’t know there were so many women at DevDays!” 

Many of the ideas that surfaced are universally applicable, not just for women—there’s plenty we can all do to create a more inclusive environment. There were a lot of takeaways from these discussions, so we’ll be sharing some of the key learnings in another blog shortly.

Firely’s Martine Berden and Google’s Vivian Neilley leading the Women for FHIR panel discussion

The fun stuff

  • Mill City Museum Evening: A fun-filled evening at the historic Mill City Museum, providing attendees with a chance to learn about flour production, enjoy the great views of Minneapolis’ skyline, and most importantly—connect. 
  • Nerd Award: Three “nerds” presented their time-consuming, not-so-valuable, and over the top inventions to be elected as the nerdiest DevDays attendee this year. This year, the honor went to Andy Bond for his “Internet of House” submission. Andy’s wife mentioned that she wanted a light switch for one of the lights, so he went about connecting EVERY programmable element of his home (indoor and outdoor lights, weather station, temperature sensors, security cameras, soil moisture monitors, and the list goes on) so that it could all be controlled via their phones/home assistant—only for her to say that she’d prefer an actual light switch. 
  • Morning Run: It was an early 6.45AM start for the annual DevDays run and hike led by Brian Kaney and Diego Kaminker. There was a big turnout this year with over 50 people making their way along the beautiful Mississippi river. 
Group photo of the runners and hikers from the DevDays 2024 Morning Run

Stay connected

An attendee commented at one of the Meet and Greets: “Isn’t DevDays one big meet & greet?” Yes! There are so many interesting and insightful sessions at DevDays, but ultimately the event was created for the FHIR community to get together and share ideas about how we can best impact healthcare. 

So, thank you to everyone who contributed to making DevDays 2024 another incredible event, and be sure to stay connected with the community on Zulip, social media, and anywhere else you can.

If you’d like to continue the conversation with us about your FHIR challenges, our FHIR experts are always up for a chat. We look forward to seeing you at DevDays 2025! 

In the meantime, feel free to take a look at past DevDays sessions on the DevDays YouTube Channel. In December we will release all DevDays 2024 sessions for those that weren’t able to make it this year.

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