GHC Conference: Advocating for Research (and Applications to HRIS)

I attended an interesting session in the policy series entitled: Advocating for Research.  Although the speakers focused on vaccine research, I found that many of the points they made had direct application to our work.

We do not think of collecting HR data to feed HRIS as conducting research, since the data are collected for management purposes and not for research purposes.  However, as with much public health research, the ultimate goal of an HRIS is to provide data for decision-making.  A few points from the session that apply:

  • Policy is often based on circumstance, current trends, or other factors
  • Having good data is one of the most effective ways to advocate for policy change
  • Accurate data can be useful in making decisions about how to distribute resources, since data can indicate areas of priority need
  • Evidence ought to be used to inform policy and to scale-up interventions
  • Local involvement and ownership is critical
  • Capacity building for the use of data for decision-making is critical.  As one participant noted, "We have a lot of work to do around communicating the value of data."

Another note: although we typically think about the benefits of HRIS from the perspective of providing data for managers and policy-makers, HRIS have a secondary benefit that we have not focused on as much.  These systems can serve as a source of HRH data for operations and health systems research.  As many at this conference have pointed out, data in these areas is in short supply.  Once HRIS are established, they may be useful in helping to fill this gap.