|Title||Enhancing the routine health information system in rural southern Tanzania: successes, challenges and lessons learned|
|Authors||Maokola, W., Willey B.A., Shirima, K., Chemba,M., Armstrong Schellenberg, J.R.M., Mshinda, H., Alonso,P., Tanner,M., Schellenberg, D.|
|Journal Name (if applicable)||Tropical Medicine and International Health|
|Open Access Y/N||No|
|Hard copy PDF Available Y/N||Yes|
|Abstract||Objective To describe and evaluate the use of handheld computers for the management of Health Management Information System data.
Methods Electronic data capture took place in 11 sentinel health centres in rural southern Tanzania. Information from children attending the outpatient department (OPD) and the Expanded Program on Immunization vaccination clinic was captured by trained local school-leavers, supported by monthly supervision visits. Clinical data included malaria blood slides and haemoglobin colour scale results. Quality of captured data was assessed using double data entry. Malaria blood slide results from health centre laboratories were compared to those from the study’s quality control laboratory.
Results The system took 5 months to implement, and few staffings or logistical problems were encountered. Over the following 12 months (April 2006–March 2007), 7056 attendances were recorded in 9880 infants aged 2–11 months, 50% with clinical malaria. Monthly supervision visits highlighted incomplete recording of information between OPD and laboratory records, where on average 40% of laboratory visits were missing the record of their corresponding OPD visit. Quality of microscopy from health facility laboratories was lower overall than that from the quality assurance laboratory.
Conclusions Electronic capture of HMIS data was rapidly and successfully implemented in this resource- poor setting. Electronic capture alone did not resolve issues of data completeness, accuracy and reliability, which are essential for management, monitoring and evaluation; suggestions to monitor and improve data quality are made.