Derek Kunaka, HIS Director for the USAID Country Health Information Systems and Use (CHISU) Project, facilitated a webinar on March 17 on “Health Information System (HIS) Leadership for HIS progression: Considerations from community to national level”. Joining him were Mwenya Kasonde, co-chair of the Health Data Collaborative, Alvin Marcelo, Executive Director, Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN), Tomé Ca, HIS Manager, West African Health Organization, and Jesse Joseph, Deputy Director, Office of Health Systems, USAID Bureau for Global Health. The panelists shared learnings from their global, regional, and country experiences with HIS leadership considerations that can lead to HIS progression and enable continuous improvement of health information systems at all levels of the health system.
But where to start? What tools can a government use to understand the current status of their health information system? Where might financial and personnel resources be invested to best serve their health system? Who do we need to get in the room to make these decisions and ensure action is streamlined? And what are the possibilities of cross-country HIS governance?
Jesse suggested “a good place to start can be an assessment of the current state of a country’s health information system using the SOCI tool developed by the MEASURE Evaluation project and used by the CHISU Project.” The HIS Stages of Continuous Improvement, or SOCI for short, is a framework and tool to measure system maturity and evolution. The SOCI tool kit can be used by stakeholders to identify both the overall stage of their HIS and map out a plan for progression.
Alvin shared AeHIN’s Mind the (Governance, Architecture, Program Management, and Standards) GAPS Framework, which has been implemented in multiple countries including Myanmar, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Philippines, and Bhutan. The Mind the GAPS framework summarizes HIS main areas to help countries plan their e-Health strategies, starting with Governance. Alvin emphasized “It all starts with governance…we should be hitting from the top and that’s what we mean by Mind the GAPS, and when we start with Governance, we make sure we get the right people, because without a clear direction, you won’t have a strategy.”
Mwenya shared the World Health Organization’s tool SCORE, which serves as a technical package to strengthen country health data for universal health coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by measuring domains Survey, Count, Optimize, Review, and Enable. SCORE provides a one-stop solution to address challenges around data availability, timeliness, and comparability as raised in the WHO World Health Statistics 2020 Report and UN SDG Report 2020. Mwenya adds SCORE can “serve as a basis for an investment framework by guiding strategic investment towards needs and priority interventions that have the most impact on the ground.”
Tomé shared experience from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a collaboration among 15 countries in West Africa who have coordinated efforts to share and use health information, making this data available to facilitate cross-border surveillance and learning and respond to public health threats like Ebola. Tome shared that by having a “regional platform for epidemiological data that can allow countries to have information in real time about what is happening in the other country has helped to reinforce cross border security surveillance.” This is truly HIS governance in action.