A conversation recently started between our iHRIS development team and others in the Open Source community about a potential new software product. For now, we’re calling it ‘iHRIS Collect,’ and it would be a new tool to quickly design and deploy a data collection survey.
Here is how we think it could work:
- An administrator would log into iHRIS Collect and use a web-based tool to define the forms/fields he/she wants to collect. For example a basic facility survey might include a facility form with fields such as name, location and type, and a resource form with fields such as resource type, amount in use, etc.
- Next, an electronic data collection form would be generated and someone with a PDA or laptop would go out and collect the information at each facility, etc., entering it directly into the system.
- Alternatively, a paper data collection form could be produced, distributed, and used for data collection. Data from the paper forms would then be entered by a data entrant into the electronic system.
Open Source experts are contributing their expertise to the discussion, including a leader of the OpenROSA community -- an Open Source platform for data-collection on mobile devices -- and a developer from Uganda Chartered HealthNet with experience developing surveys for use on PDA's.
iHRIS Collect would help meet several needs. It not only would provide an easy, fast way to develop a one-time or periodic survey, but it would also be an interim solution for organizations not yet ready to use a mature software product, like iHRIS Qualify (our licensure and qualification software) or iHRIS Manage (our HR management software). Our development team recognized this need when a few countries started using iHRIS Manage, but did not have a standard job/position structure clearly defined. As a result, some imported/entered data into iHRIS Manage that still needed to be cleaned, causing a delay in producing reports and analyzing the information. With a product like iHRIS Collect, countries or organizations could instead first enter their data into an electronic format, then clean it and create standards, before implementing iHRIS Manage.
iHRIS Collect is intended to have a similar data structure as the other iHRIS software, so data could be easily migrated into iHRIS Manage or Qualify when the country or organization is ready. This also means that data entry clerks using iHRIS Collect would already be familiar with the way the iHRIS software fuctions, so they could easily switch to using our other, more mature products.
The leader from OpenROSA advised that there is already a good deal of work along these same lines that our developers could learn from, including several systems that build off of JavaROSA, an open source software, including openXdata, EpiSurveyor, and Open Data Kit (ODK).
One of our goals with the iHRIS software is to improve and ensure its interoperability with other Open Source health systems. So, it would be a great opportunity if iHRIS Collect could leverage tools already built around JavaROSA. That way, iHRIS Manage or iHRIS Qualify could easily interface with other software.
We already have ideas for places to pilot a tool like iHRIS Collect. For instance, another IntraHealth project, the Southern Africa Human Capacity Development Coalition (SAHCD), is working on an HR survey for the Ministry of Gender in Namibia and is looking for a tool to hold the survey results.
For a more technical explanation of iHRIS Collect, visit this page of our wiki - http://open.intrahealth.org/mediawiki/IHRIS_Collect_Design_Overview If you would like to join the discussion, you can do so by joining our developers list, and sending a message with your ideas.