Improving the Use of Health Data for Health System Strengthening
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Author(s): Nutley T, Reynolds H
Background: Good quality and timely data from health information systems are the foundation of all health systems. However, too often data sit in reports, on shelves or in databases and are not sufficiently utilised in policy and program development, improvement, strategic planning and advocacy. Without specific interventions aimed at improving the use of data produced by information systems, health systems will never fully be able to meet the needs of the populations they serve.
Objective: To employ a logic model to describe a pathway of how specific activities and interventions can strengthen the use of health data in decision making to ultimately strengthen the health system.
Design: A logic model was developed to provide a practical strategy for developing, monitoring and evaluating interventions to strengthen the use of data in decision making. The model draws on the collective strengths and similarities of previous work and adds to those previous works by making specific recommendations about interventions and activities that are most proximate to affect the use of data in decision making. The model provides an organizing framework for how interventions and activities work to strengthen the systematic demand, synthesis, review, and use of data.
Results: The logic model and guidance are presented to facilitate its widespread use and to enable improved data-informed decision making in program review and planning, advocacy, policy development. Real world examples from the literature support the feasible application of the activities outlined in the model.
Conclusions: The logic model provides specific and comprehensive guidance to improve data demand and use. It can be used to design, monitor and evaluate interventions, and to improve demand for, and use of, data in decision making. As more interventions are implemented to improve use of health data, those efforts need to be evaluated.
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