Tipsheet: Sources of HRH Data


Understand the sources of HRH data and communicate the value of health workforce information.

As much as possible, the HIS should use common datasets and a standardized data exchange format. This will ensure that the HRIS can regularly share data with other systems. Linking HRH data with broader health information–such as disease burden, health services utilization, and patient outcomes–can prioritize health worker training and deployment in order to meet health system goals.

iHRIS will require an initial input of health worker data, which will need to be collected from one or more sources. Often the first source of HRH data to be considered is the national health management information system (HMIS), which might provide the number of doctors, nurses, or midwives but little else. This system may help a country look at deployment issues or inequities, but gives none of the granular data essential to supporting the health workforce.

Another source of health worker data most countries have is the payroll system designed to ensure that public sector workers get paid.  These systems frequently have large gaps; for example, they usually don’t include health-specific information, such as cadres or health competencies.  They also often don’t include the duty station—the community or facility health workers are working in; they would instead favor the ‘duty station’ where health workers get paid, perhaps the district health office.

The public sector payroll system almost never includes non-public sector employees. That information is usually only captured by the different non-public sector organizations themselves.  Grouped into faith-based organizations (FBOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and for-profit providers and organizations, these bodies have their own payroll systems, at a minimum.  There is often an umbrella organization or association that may provide services to all of their member organizations.

Training institutions can provide data on the incoming pipeline of health workers from preservice education, as well as improvements to competencies through in-service education. Professional councils are probably the most powerful sources of information.  These regulatory bodies register and license all health professionals of a particular cadre.  They capture information on all health workers regardless of the sector they are working in, and they gather data directly from the health workers themselves, not through any complex and error-prone management structure.

Examples of institutions that may provide data on HRH

National institute of statistics: Data related to the population census

Ministry of defense: Data on military health workers

Ministry of health: Number of health workers

Ministry of finance: Payroll information for public sector workers

Private sector organizations such as FBOs and NGOs: Payroll information for private sector workers

Migration office: Records or categories of migrant health workers

Ministry of labor: Number of health workers

Medical council: Registry of public, private, and foreign doctors

Nursing council: Registry of public and private nurses

Nursing association: Registry of nurses

School of medicine: Records of medical students

School of nursing: Records of staff and students

School of midwifery: Records of staff and students

School of technicians on health: Records of staff and students

Regional health centers: Records of regional health workers

Other health worker associations: Registry of public, private, and foreign health workers

Labor unions: Registry of public, private, and foreign health workers

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