Strategic Planning for Health Information Systems – A Supplement to the Health Metrics Network’s Guidance
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Author(s): Sapirie, Stephen
Management Sciences for Health (MSH) developed the original Guidance for the Health Information Systems (HIS) Strategic Planning Process: Steps, Tools and Templates for HIS Systems Design and Strategic Planning in 2007; the Health Metrics Network (HMN) published the most recent version (the sixth) in 2009. This guidance document was created to foster principles and methods to help national health administrations respond to HIS assessment findings. The guidance outlined the phases and steps that national working groups can use to address the common needs and gaps in their HIS. The guidance consisted of principles, steps, intermediate products, formats, and proposed plan outlines to inform sound systems analysis and intervention design, planning, and implementation. The guidance detailed the processes recommended for achieving each step, sometimes offering alternative methods, as well. During the development of the guidelines, the authors had the opportunity to try out some of the phases and steps in countries that were being supported by HMN to formulate a development strategy and plan.
Over the years, many users reported that the processes described in the document were too complicated and required national health administrations to take on too much subsystem development. HIS strategy developers reported they wanted something simpler. Over the same period, eHealth has evolved and should be a larger part of the overall HIS covered in the guidance.
Because HMN no longer exists, MEASURE Evaluation supported an effort to review the original guidance to improve it and address problems reported by those who used it for strategic planning. This supplement, like the original guidance document, is intended to be used by national HIS planners, designers, and managers, along with international advisors to the strategic planning process.
Nine years after the creation of the original HIS guidance, this supplement aims to answer the following questions:
- Does a national HIS warrant a six- to eight-month planning effort by a large, multifaceted group of nationals and international advisors?
- Does the recommended set of phases and steps in the guidance actually produce a full set of products that identify priority HIS development needs, how the needs can be addressed, and how the chosen interventions can be implemented and paid for? Can something shorter and simpler serve the same purposes?
- Are there problems with the process, the plan, or the plan’s implementation that are difficult to resolve? Could the process be dropped altogether in certain situations?
In answering these questions, we came up with suggestions to improve the steps and processes needed to plan an HIS, and these are presented here.
This document is not available in print from MEASURE Evaluation.