Productive Visit with IMA Staff

Scott Todd of IMA World Health visited the HRIS team in Chapel Hill last week. IMA is a nonprofit faith-based organization that provides health care services and supplies, and has field offices in Tanzania, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, and Kenya. The organization also helps build and strengthen health care systems on the community, regional and national level. IMA is a key partner on the Capacity Project and on the new follow-on project, CapacityPlus.

IMA, and particularly Scott, have been instrumental to our HRIS strengthening work in Tanzania Mainland, first under the global Capacity Project and now under the IntraHealth-led Tanzania Human Resource Capacity Project Associate Award. As Health Management Information Systems and Geographic Information Systems program manager for IMA, Scott has an impressive background working with health information systems in the FBO community and is using this experience to support the implementation of iHRIS Manage at Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), Tanzania’s largest FBO.

In Tanzania, it’s estimated that FBO’s manage 40% of health facilities in the country, and provide 50% of all health services.   So, it’s crucial to ensure that data is collected (in iHRIS Manage or another HR management system) on health workers employed by the FBO sector. Unfortunately, data is often only collected on health workers working in the public sector. Scott is dedicated to bridging this gap.  “The faith-based and public sectors should be more integrated,” he said in a meeting last week, “because countries need to incorporate the faith-based sector.”

A priority under the new global CapacityPlus is to expand and further decentralize iHRIS development.  As IMA is ideally situated to work with the FBO’s in Tanzania and beyond, it can take a leadership role in disseminating training, best practices, and providing support for iHRIS deployments in these communities.  To this end, Scott’s visit to Chapel Hill was focused on improving the capacity of IMA to provide technical assistance on a global level for iHRIS Manage.

During his visit, Scott primarily worked with the iHRIS developers. The first day he was oriented on the iHRIS database structure, including modules and form relationships. He was then led through the process of customizing the software, walking through recent CSSC customizations as examples. On day two he installed Ubuntu and iHRIS Manage and provided helpful feedback on improving the process with additional documentation and Ubuntu shortcuts. He was also trained on various tools used by the iHRIS developers to encourage and foster a wider development community, including the wiki, Launchpad and IRC. As he is supporting zonal deployment of iHRIS Manage at CSSC, he discussed implementation strategies and best practices for large scale rollout with our IT department.  On his final day, he met with the larger HRIS team and provided advice on enhancing iHRIS documentation and improving existing tools and resources. Scott sees the need to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical people, so HR managers, for example, can more easily understand the benefits and functions of iHRIS Manage. To do this, he suggested creating more graphics, a topical mind map, and an overview video, and encouraging standards such as job codes and classifications.

Scott provided excellent insight and ideas for moving the iHRIS software forward. As he has a geography background, he is interested in helping to integrate GIS into iHRIS. For example, IMA already has about 900 CSSC health facilities geo coded. The iHRIS developers said that in the future, we should add fields to iHRIS Manage to store this sort of GIS information, like facility location data. He also discussed promoting interoperability between iHRIS Manage and District Health Information System software (DHIS). This is high on his agenda as he is also supporting DHIS implementation in DR Congo and S. Sudan and is traveling to both countries later this month.

Dykki Settle, HRIS team lead, said he is hoping with what he’s learned, Scott will now be our ‘FBO expert,’ and provide support for FBO’s interested in implementing iHRIS. He encouraged Scott to share any FBO-specific needs for the iHRIS software back to the team. The HRIS team is looking forward to continuing to work with him. In the next few weeks he will be providing additional feedback on iHRIS resources, work plans, budget templates and project deliverables.