I can not more agree with Mike’s comments. I am writing you from Addis Ababa where the Ministry of Health is undertaking a review of the current set of essential indicators. Such reviews are needed every 3-5 years to make sure that the information collected corresponds to the needs of the users at various levels of the health system. Visualization of data can only be useful if the data collected are relevant to the decision making needs of the users .
Another important aspect to consider when better visualizing data is the quality and interoperability of the data collected. The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in Ethiopia has developed recently a web-based data visualization and analysis platform called EDAP, which brings together various databases on services provided and on resources used. But in order to make data analysis relevant, data accuracy, data completeness, and data timeliness needs to be verified and improved where gaps are identified. Data elements need to well defined in a standardized data dictionary to allow for interoperability. The FMOH and the Gates Foundation therefore have created a new project called Data Use Partnership (DUP) to further work with HMIS stakeholders on all these aspects which ultimately will lead to better use of information for decision making.
I would like to hear from colleagues in other countries how data quality is addressed in setting up data visualization platforms (or decision support systems).
Theo Lippeveld, DUP/Ethiopia