Designing and Implementing Health Management Information Systems

30th July 2018
Author: Kerina Tull

This review studies the lessons learned from what has and has not worked in designing and implementing Health Information Systems (HIS) in other countries. Reasons for success vary according to the country they are based in, and are due to a number of factors. HMISs are often also called Routine Health Information Systems (RHISs) or HISs, and relevant data using any of these terms is included in this rapid review. However, studies evaluating development of HISs in developing countries are limited. Specialists were consulted about key sources of information for this rapid review. These experts confirmed that most HMIS evidence is from single-country experiences, as well as the scarcity of comparative studies. Global evidence, taken from cross-country systematic analysis and individual country experiences, suggests that setting up a new HIS alone does not guarantee its success. Key findings are: An integrated HIS requires a long-term, high-level focus on good HMIS governance, capacity building for data management and information use, and strong commitment to change by leadership across stakeholder groups (Heywood and Booth, 2015:56). The review identifies key enablers including financial and motivational support, proper implementation and maintenance supported by good ICT. Meanwhile, there are key barriers need to be considered in the discussion, including an unclear information framework, organisational factors and hierarchical organisational structures, cost issues in high-income settings, staff with poor language skills, and capacity barriers. There are two major effective approaches to donor co-ordination in demands for data: effective strategies to influence donor involvement include all-phase involvement from design to implementation, improving governance, investment in improved data sources, and more collaborations (WHO, World Bank Group & USAID, 2015) and developing a system based on the ‘three-ones’ strategy (one database, one monitoring system, one leadership) can harmonise the efforts of donors in support of developing countries (WHO, World Bank Group, & USAID, 2015).

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Suggested Citation

Tull, K. (2018). Designing and Implementing Health Management Information Systems. K4D Helpdesk Report 376. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


30th July 2018


Continent: Global