Building a Web-Based Decision Support System

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Author(s): Michael P. Edwards, Theo Lippeveld, Upama Khatri, Derek Kunaka, Michael Mwebaze, and Romain Tohouri

Year: 2018

Building a Web-Based Decision Support System Abstract:

As countries strengthen their data infrastructures, global health professionals increasingly need data from multiple sources for monitoring programs and for preventing and controlling the spread of epidemics. These varied sources of data complement one another, and when combined, improve the data’s usefulness.

Before data sources can be linked, they need to be interoperable. To accomplish this, countries are developing health information exchange protocols, also called interoperability layers or health information mediators. Many of the current efforts seek to make patient-level and aggregate data systems interoperable, using health information exchange standards.

To exploit the possibilities of linking multiple data sources, countries are establishing data repositories—also called data warehouses—which bring data sources together and link them through an interoperability layer. Data warehouses are connected to a “health observatory,” which is a gateway to health statistics. Health observatories permit access to in-depth analyses of population health and health services at the national, subnational, and district levels. Health observatories can take the form of dashboards, portals, and web interfaces developed for specific stakeholders.

Another component of a health observatory is a decision support system (DSS)—the focus of this paper. A DSS is a tool that brings data together from multiple sources and presents them in innovative visual formats: graphs, spatial analyses, and maps; health sector reports; and other media. A DSS makes health information more readily available, understandable, and, ultimately, more likely to be used by decision makers.

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