Defining Health Information Systems

Health information systems (HIS) provide evidence for policy and program-level decisions to support better health outcomes at both the individual and population levels. However, the meaning of the term “HIS” varies across sources, often with no clear or precise definition.

Health information is an integral part of a functioning health system. Health information systems (HIS) provide evidence for policy and program decisions to support better health outcomes for individuals and for populations overall. However, the meaning of the term “HIS” varies across sources, often with no clear or precise definition.

For example, a literature review may yield thousands of HIS-related documents, and the results of these searches will cover routine health information systems (RHIS), health management information systems (HMIS), health information technology, and other terms used interchangeably. Importantly, HIS refers to a system involving producers, users, and other factors contributing to the production and use of health information.

How Does MEASURE Evaluation Define HIS?

Health information is one of six core functions of a health system (USAID, 2015). Health information generated by an HIS supports evidence-informed decision making at each level of a health system. Health information can inform the planning and targeting of national and subnational health programs to support the achievement of health equity and universal health coverage.

In addition, an HIS supports a country’s ability to report on progress in meeting the ambitious goals of global initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, preventing child and maternal deaths, and combatting infectious disease threats.

An HIS encompasses all health data sources required by a country to plan and implement its national health strategy. Examples of these data sources are electronic health records (EHRs) for patient care, health facility data, surveillance data, census data, population surveys, vital event records, human resource records, financial data, infrastructure data, and logistics and supply data.

How Do Other Organizations Define HIS? 

HIS has become an umbrella term encompassing a number of systems, both electronic and paper-based for capturing and transferring health data. Some countries or organizations define HIS more narrowly. 

Terms Related to HIS

Routine HIS, health management information systems, and other terms are used to describe specific health information systems. 

MailLinkedInTwitterFacebook
share this


hissrc-linked-in.jpgJoin a LinkedIn Group to share, comment, and keep up with what our project and others are doing to strengthen HIS.