Information support for health management in regional Sri Lanka : health managers’ perspectives

Ranasinghe, Indika, Chan, Taizan, & Yarlagadda, Prasad K. (2012) Information support for health management in regional Sri Lanka : health managers’ perspectives. Health Information Management Journal, 41(3), pp. 13-19.

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Abstract

Good management, supported by accurate, timely and reliable health information, is vital for increasing the effectiveness of Health Information Systems (HIS). When it comes to managing the under resourced health systems of developing countries, information-based decision making is particularly important. This paper reports findings of a self-report survey that investigated perceptions of local health managers (HMs) of their own regional HIS in Sri Lanka. Data were collected through a validated, pre-tested postal questionnaire, and distributed among a selected group of HMs to elicit their perceptions of the current HIS in relation to information generation, acquisition and use, required reforms to the information system and application of information and communication technology (ICT). Results based on descriptive statistics indicated that the regional HIS was poorly organised and in need of reform; that management support for the system was unsatisfactory in terms of relevance, accuracy, timeliness and accessibility; that political pressure and community and donor requests took precedence over vital health information when management decisions were made; and use of ICT was unsatisfactory.

HIS strengths included user-friendly paper formats, a centralised planning system and an efficient disease notification system; weaknesses were lack of comprehensiveness, inaccuracy, and lack of a feedback system. Responses of participants indicated that HIS would be improved by adopting an internationally accepted framework and introducing ICT applications. Perceived barriers to such improvements were high initial cost of educating staff to improve computer literacy, introduction of ICTs, and HIS restructure. We concluded that the regional HIS of Central Province, Sri Lanka had failed to provide much needed information support to HMs. These findings are consistent with similar research in other developing countries and reinforce the need for further research to verify causes of poor performance and to design strategic reforms to improve HIS in regional Sri Lanka.

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ID Code: 56570
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Information Management, Medical Informatics, Public Health Informatics, Health Information Technology, Information Systems, Developing Countries
ISSN: 1833-3583
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Information Systems (incl. Surveillance) (111711)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Health Information Management Association of Australia
Deposited On: 22 Jan 2013 04:12
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2013 05:26

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