Payroll systems usually hold only very basic information, and have limited reporting capabilities – plus they usually don’t cover all public healthcare staff (in many countries government staff are supplemented by staff paid directly by donors, and by doctors/nurses from partner organisations).
So there is a strong need for the much more comprehensive workforce information that a HRIS provides. The point Tariq makes is a good one, but I think if you are prepared to modify your HRIS to fit the MoF’s systems (rather than vice-versa), then you can make good headway.
In Swaziland in 2007, with support from IntraHealth, I helped the MoH set up a monthly download from the MoF payroll system into the HRIS, linking up payroll data to the wider range of data maintained in the HRIS.
This gave the HRIS solid foundations, and created a virtuous circle – not only did it keep the HRIS up-to-date, it also enabled the MoH to pick up errors in the payroll system, and put through forms to have them corrected. (This mostly related to names, dates-of-birth or locations of staff, but in a few cases we were able to identify staff who had left but were still on the payroll.)
But customised integrations like this are fragile – one software update and everything can break down – so taking this to scale really requires us to start building and using standardised tools for this integration work.