It’s only natural to want to jump right into deploying a new human resource information system like iHRIS, once it’s decided that one is needed. Before beginning, though, take some time to assess the systems for managing health information that already exist.
iHRIS will be a sub-component of the health information system (HIS) or eHealth architecture that will need to share data with other information systems. During this stage, it’s important to identify all potential producers and users of HRH information. These will be sources of data for iHRIS. The assessment will also help you understand how HRH information will flow to other systems, as well as to users via reports.
Also look for gaps or needed resources to support iHRIS during the assessment phase. Some of the biggest challenges cited in implementing iHRIS are infrastructure needs, such as reliable electrical power, Internet connectivity, production and testing servers, and a place to store database backups. Training of everyone who will use iHRIS, both to enter data and analyze HR information, is also often overlooked. These needs must be factored into the total cost of the implementation.
Active participation of senior leadership is often cited as the most important factor in a successful implementation. At this stage, it is most valuable to identify “early adopters,” who can help build consensus by showing enthusiasm for the HRIS. With these stakeholders, begin to identify the policy and management questions that need to be answered by the HRIS. For example, do you need a system to help determine the number of students graduating from nursing schools so you may predict your available health workforce? Or do you need to know who is retiring in five years so you can determine if training should be scaled up? This is also a good time to build your business case for iHRIS, which presents the problems to be solved and the benefits of using iHRIS to stakeholders.
Objectives and Deliverables
Identify the primary champions, or stakeholders, of iHRIS.
Determine whether there is an established regional body or health organization, such as a Health Workforce Observatory, that can provide technical assistance or additional resources.
National Health Workforce Observatories in the Context of Africa Health Workforce Observatory: Concept and Implementation Strategy (Africa Health Workforce Observatory, WHO [draft])
CapacityPlus Technical Brief 2: West Africa’s Regional Approach to Strengthening Health Workforce Information (CapacityPlus, 2012)
Global Health Workforce Alliance (WHO)
Africa Health Workforce Observatory Network
Understand issues involved in planning an information systems project and developing a health information system.
Present the problems to be solved and the benefits of using iHRIS to stakeholders. Get consensus from the leaders on the outcomes they expect from the implementation.
Software & Systems
Conduct an assessment survey of existing HRH information systems, processes, data collection forms, and standards. Assess existing infrastructure available to support the system and document any gaps.
Data Sharing & Interoperability
Conduct an assessment survey of existing HIS. Review the country’s eHealth strategy, if there is one, and document any policies that need to be followed.
Data Quality & Standards
Understand the sources of HRH data and communicate the value of health workforce information.
Training & Support
Assess resources available to support trainings and document any gaps. Identify potential training sites.
Data Use & Reporting
With stakeholders, begin defining the key HRH policy and management questions that need to be answered by the HRIS.
Document the assessment results in a report for stakeholders. Based on the results, diagram the links between producers and users of HRH information to determine how data move through the systems and to whom it will be reported. Identify gaps in supporting ICT infrastructure.
Key questions to answer before continuing:
- Is an HRIS appropriate for this environment?
- Is iHRIS the best software to fulfill the need?
- Do you have leadership support, infrastructure, and funding in place?