Managing health information effectively in Ethiopia
An effective and standardized HMIS can help improve health service delivery through proper data collection and interpretation for informed decisionmaking right in the health facility. "The introduction of the new HMIS forms was initially received unfavorably by health care providers who mistakenly anticipated more paperwork," Ato explains. "In truth, the forms lighten the burden through the use of a uniform system that gives everyone access to the same data."
The use of integrated folders is one of the innovations in reducing the accumulation of numerous records for the same patient. Previously, a patient typically received a new card for each visit to a health facility. Because of this, providers would never know the patient's history since they used a new card for each encounter. This fragmented recordkeeping led providers to make errors during diagnosis and treatment.
At the Adama Hospital in the Oromia region, the card room has two windows. One is for issuing an integrated folder to each new patient. The other serves as a fast tracking spot for revisits and chronic patients. Here, their integrated folder is retrieved and sent to the patient's health care provider. Asegedech, a card room worker, says that the alphabetized master patient index makes locating re-visiting patients' folders easy.
Training health workers throughout the country on the revised HMIS will ensure that patient information is used as appropriately and efficiently as possible at all service delivery points. Trainers stress the need for providers to know how to use the forms, and are convincing them that HMIS can generate useful information for planning and managing health services. "The trainings are creating a sense of ownership by involving health care providers in the hierarchy," says Ato Girma. This process requires significant work, and scaling up to the national level within a short period of time is a big concern for Ato Girma as he considers the enormous volume of human, material, and logistical resources required.
"Continued supportive supervision will be required if quality data collection is to be maintained," stresses Ato Girma. "Managers and health care providers must follow instructions on the forms to create and utilize authentic data. If one provider misses one of the required instructions, the whole reporting will be compromised, jeopardizing appropriate information generation and decisionmaking." Despite these challenges, careful planning for country-wide operation is crucial, and is resulting in a more successful health care system.
|Related Projects: USAID | DELIVER PROJECT: Task Order 1 (2006-2012), Ethiopia Health Management Information System Strengthening Project (2006-2012)|