How Can Routine Health Information Systems Improve Health Systems Functioning in Low-Resource Settings? Assessing the Evidence Base
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Author(s): Hotchkiss D, Diana M, and Foreit K
Health system strengthening depends on production and use of quality health data and information at all levels of the health system. Routine health information systems (RHIS) are receiving increasing attention as a sustainable strategy towards country-owned, integrated national systems that reduce reliance on parallel, vertical systems. To guide investment decisions on RHIS strengthening, evidence is needed on which types of strategies work and which do not. This paper reviews the literature on the evaluation of RHIS interventions in low- and middle-income countries, on the premise that investments in RHIS could produce greater benefits than they currently do. The paper describes the conceptual literature on the determinants of RHIS performance and its role in improving health systems functioning and performance at the local level, discusses the evidence base on the effectiveness of strategies to improve RHIS performance, provides an overview of RHIS evaluation challenges, and makes suggestions to improve the evidence base that can be used to help ensure that (a) RHIS interventions are appropriately designed and implemented to improve health systems functioning and (b) resulting RHIS information is used more effectively.
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