DHIS 2 Apps: Gateway to access real-time data for informed decision-making

Authors: Beatrice Syomiti , Christopher Isah, Isaiah Nyabuto

BACKGROUND: The Adolescents 360 (A360) program is a five-year initiative focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It is funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The program aims to reshape how girls in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia view, value, and choose contraception. The success of ASRH programs in reaching underserved adolescent girls with quality family planning services hinges on the availability of accurate, timely, and high-quality data from program interventions. However, this remains a challenge in many programs as data is often not available when needed for critical decision-making. Even when data is available, it may lack quality, may not be easily interpretable, and may miss key information, such as adolescent family planning method mix and age disaggregations, which are often absent from national health management information systems (HMIS). Additionally, facility staff may lack the skills to use automated systems and interpret results, and internet connectivity can be unreliable.

PROGRAM INTERVENTION : To enhance access to quality, real-time data, A360 rolled out the implementation of DHIS 2 android App (event capture APP) for data capture at facility level. To improve access to quality, real-time data, A360 Amplify launched the DHIS 2 Android App (Event Capture App) for data capture at the facility level. This app was seamlessly integrated with the PSI DHIS 2 (HMIS) systems in Nigeria and Tanzania. Additionally, the team developed comprehensive analytics dashboards and a Data to Action framework (D2A) to facilitate discussions on performance and enhance data utilization for decision-making at both country and global levels.

METHODOLOGY : An inclusive team of program staff, M&E experts, and system developers from Nigeria and Tanzania collaboratively developed the DHIS 2 Event Capture App. This app was utilized across 157 health facilities in Nigeria and 760 facilities in Tanzania from October 2020 to October 2021. Integrated directly with the DHIS 2 system, the app supported robust dashboard setups.

Healthcare workers in government facilities actively participated in defining key reporting indicators, referencing FP registers and other tools. Training sessions were conducted for health service providers from all 917 facilities to ensure proficient use of the app for documenting, reviewing, validating, and submitting data online. Each facility received tablets with monthly internet bundles to facilitate data transmission.

The DHIS 2 Event Capture App features both online and offline capabilities, enabling data storage and subsequent submission when internet access is unavailable. FP dashboards were developed on the DHIS 2 platform alongside a Data to Action (D2A) framework, facilitating real-time discussions on performance through structured data use plans.

Regular bi-weekly and monthly performance review meetings engaged teams, service providers, and government Ministry of Health (MoH) staff. These sessions identified areas for improvement and adjustments, ensuring effective course corrections and program enhancements.

RESULTS: Key findings from October 2020 to October 2021 show that Nigeria tracked FP services for 98,681 adopters and Tanzania for 59,314 adopters using the DHIS 2 system. Dashboards effectively monitored performance and provided real-time data, revealing service delivery gaps. This allowed program teams and providers to promptly adjust strategies, ensuring targeted demand creation for adolescent girls’ access to quality services. During the pandemic, the digital platform ensured continuous data access at the facility level. Mobile accessibility facilitated easy data access and strategy identification from any location, while offline capability enabled data documentation and submission despite connectivity issues. Data were validated on-site before synchronizing with the DHIS2 database.

PROGRAM IMPLICATIONS / LESSONS:

The DHIS 2 Android App, alongside Data to Action (D2A) frameworks, enhanced data use for decision-making. Scheduled performance reviews brought dashboards to life, guiding effective discussions on program performance.

Strengthening the ability of facility providers to document and interpret results is essential. Many healthcare workers lack skills in data interpretation and use.

Programs and governments need to invest in automating data management systems to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and save time compared to paper-based systems. This allows healthcare workers to focus more on client services.

Collaboration with the government ensures digital platforms adhere to national standards and integrate seamlessly into national HMIS systems, informing policy decisions and ensuring sustainability post-program transition. Despite initial costs, the long-term benefits of quality data justify the investment.

Contact person: Beatrice Syomiti I Population Services International I Email: bsyomiti@psi.org

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