Over the past decade, the RHIS community has seen great innovation and momentum around the movement from paper-based record keeping and transmittal systems to electronic systems.
Electronic Health Management Information Systems (eHMIS) is a facility based data aggregation system that is used for public health-related decision making. Its main users are public policy makers, health officers, researchers, planning departments of health offices, HMIS focal persons, data entry clerks and many others ranging from health facility to federal management levels.
Moreover, eHMIS is best referred as a system that is designed to fulfill the need of automated national health information management system. It helps to accurately and timely collect, aggregate, store, analyze and evaluate health related data from health facility to federal level. The system also has decision support tools mainly used by decision makers at the federal, regional, zonal and woreda levels.
eHMIS, therefore, is composed of a set of interrelated components and procedures organized with the objective of generating health information and intelligence to monitor the health status and health services of the nation to improve public health care leadership and management decisions at all levels (MEASURE Evaluation).
Benefits of electronic systems include the rapid speed of aggregation and transmittal, improved data quality by limiting the opportunities for human error in the data flow process, and the availability of dashboards and related visualization tools that bring routine health statistics to life and promote data use.
Implementation of these electronic systems is not without challenges though, particularly connectivity, availability of technology at lower levels of the system, and needs for customization and training to promote local use of the tools available in the system. In many countries, electronic systems are used from the district level up to the national level, while facilities continue to capture patient records in paper registers.
Despite these challenges though, electronic systems are being adapted and implemented in countries around the world. There are even limited examples of community-based implementation and use of electronic systems with great success.
Open Source Tools
The most widely used open source eHMIS system is DHIS2. As of 2015, the product is being used at national scale in 30 countries and by various organizations across four continents; DHIS2 is being used at various levels of the health sytsem in 47 countries. The platform is designed to help governments in developing countries and health organizations to manage their operations more effectively, monitor processes and improve communication.
The DHIS2 suite of tools provides flexibility, specifically customization of data elements, data entry forms, validation rules, indicators and reports in order to create a fully-fledged system for data management. The platform can be used on PCs as well as tablets and smartphones, in an effort to make data readily available across devices. DHIS 2 provides a wide range of solutions based on HTML5, SMS and Java.
The PRISM tools can be applied to assess the strength of and opportunities for improvement within eHMIS.