by Elisabeth Harris and Megan Shea, Global Business Systems
It’s no secret that technology is changing our world– and that nonprofits must work hard to keep up. In 2010, PSI teamed up with the University of Oslo to launch DHIS2 as the organization’s primary health management information system in our network countries, where it has been tailored to the specific data capture requirements of PSI’s health programs. Over the past eight years, PSI and its partners have been extensively using DHIS2 and its multiple “tech offerings.” These offerings have allowed users—everyone from program and M&E staff, Quality Assurance Officers, IPC agents, to staff at the headquarters office—to collect and use data in new ways, transforming how they interact with global health and technology. In more than 34 countries, PSI has been able to make better and more informed decisions based on the systems developed alongside and through DHIS2, doing everything from developing electronic medical records, tracking malaria outbreaks, and improving quality of care to linking patients with personalized healthcare access.
Big Bets, Big Solutions
PSI has set a lofty goal- to bring healthcare closer to consumers, wherever they are. This is not an easy task and requires creative solutions. That’s why PSI supports a range of technologies that help reimagine healthcare worldwide. Check out some of the main takeaways PSI’s Global Business Systems program has found over the past few years of work.
Cultivate a Culture of Data Use
As an information-collection software for all of PSI’s data, DHIS2 acts as a tool beyond the normal scope of regular information systems. Taking cues from social media platforms and applications like Instagram and Facebook, DHIS2 links with mobile device technology and other systems to make health data more accessible and to reflect the current market’s needs. But it’s not enough to collect the data. The tool allows for deep analysis for decision making. To make sure DHIS2 is an oft-considered tool, PSI country offices have even taken this passion for data use to creative initiatives, such as in Laos and Haiti, where competitions encourage staff to strengthen their skills in DHIS2.
Invest in PSI, Invest in the Greater Good
PSI believes that sharing technology leads to better results. That’s why it seeks partners willing to learn and expand on existing solutions. We want partners to be inspired by new technology and benefit from our working relationships with experts around the world. These new connections have resulted in new applications including Connecting with Sara, an initiative to track and engage with our target audience (referred to as Sara) through her mobile phone. We aim to provide access to reliable information about and links to health products and services while collecting data that help us understand her perspective to reach her better in the future. We also have created mobile apps to support Malaria Case Surveillance, while allows field workers to report real-time malaria cases to be included in PSI’s decision-making, but also that of the national malaria control programs.
Partner with the Public Sector
Creating easy-to-use technology and sharing it with the wider global community allows us to amplify the collaborative atmosphere of engagement with health organizations and the public sector worldwide. Through partnerships with country Ministries of Health that want to improve their own information systems and better use data to improve programs, PSI is setting the standard for quality service practices that can have a wider reach. This was especially evident with our partnership with Angola’s Ministry of Health, which was crucial to the nationwide rollout of DHIS2, where it was used to support the strengthening of the national malaria and AIDS program.
Maintain a Holistic Perspective
PSI’s wealth of knowledge and resources allows us to implement projects throughout their lifecycles, from end-to-end. Combining health program needs with tech systems means that actors with many varied skillsets must work together to develop a system that will meet consumers’ needs throughout their entire healthcare experience. The Connecting with Sara app requires expert software developers, research advisors, program managers, and network clinic staff to develop and implement the app’s system, which connects a mobile app directly to a “tracker” database system that helps healthcare providers and PSI make sure clients get proper follow-up care.
What’s New and Upcoming?
An updated, more user-friendly version of DHIS2 will launch in November 2018, enabling PSI and partners to improve the culture of data use. Meanwhile, HNQIS, PSI’s quality assurance application to assess, improve and monitor health providers’ skills, has just been updated, making the software more user-friendly and enabling care to be monitored more closely.
Check out the fact sheets on each type of technology below.
Banner photo © 2017 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photoshare