Improving Interoperability of Health Information Systems

A group of software developers from IntraHealth, Health Metrics Network, and Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) are collaborating to improve the interoperability of internationally-recognized Open Source health information systems (HIS). Currently, the group is conducting a pilot activity to easily integrate health worker data in iHRIS Manage with facility-level data in District Health Information Systems (DHIS). iHRIS Manage is an Open Source HR management system developed by the IntraHealth-led Capacity Project and part of the iHRIS Suite of HR software products. DHIS is Open Source health management software developed by HISP that captures statistical facility and patient data to support health administrators.  

HMN supports country implementation of DHIS and is currently working in Sierra Leone, with plans to also deploy iHRIS Manage in the country. Therefore, the developers were able to review sample data from Sierra Leone’s DHIS along with iHRIS Manage sample data to define a common data set of districts, chiefdoms, facilities and cadres. Based on this, the group is exploring how to best integrate iHRIS and DHIS and determine how shared information can be most effectively utilized.

As common data sets in DHIS and iHRIS have been identified, data aggregated by iHRIS Manage can now be exported automatically to be read by DHIS. For example, a report from iHRIS Manage showing the number of health care workers by district and cadre can be compared against data for that district tracked in DHIS, such as HIV/AIDS prevalence rates or reproductive and child health needs.

The next step is to explore how to export this type of iHRIS report in SDMX-HD, the international standard for statistical metadata exchange developed by WHO. Using this standard format will allow for easier data exchange between iHRIS, DHIS and other widely used HIS, such as OpenMRS (an Open Source electronic medical records system), for more informed health decision-making. Another next step is to develop a ‘live cd’ loaded with both iHRIS and DHIS, so current and potential users of the software can test working with both products.