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Investing in Health Information Management: The right people, in the right place, at the right time

by on July 29, 2016

Investing in health information management: The right people, in the right place, at the right timeRoutine health records generated at health facilities are significant for evaluating the performance of health systems and for directing efforts towards areas of most need (Aqil et al., 2009). The primary officers responsible for the management of health records and generating statistics in health facilities are health information management professionals. The skills of these professionals—who are the gatekeepers for health records that are necessary to assess the performance of the health system—need to be adequate and appropriate to meet the need for high-quality data.

Health information management professionals are responsible for managing patients’ health service records and hospital information systems across health facilities in Nigeria. Yet, many health facilities in Nigeria do not have qualified health information management professionals manning their health records units. To determine needs, an assessment of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) managers from donor-funded health programs in Nigeria was carried out by the USAID-funded MEASURE Evaluation project on the quality of health information management professionals. The assessment found many were inadequately skilled in information and communications technology (ICT) skills needed to function effectively and to play leadership roles in hospital information systems.

A subsequent review of the curriculum for training health information management professionals was therefore conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria (FMOH) and the Health Records Officers Registration Board of Nigeria (HRORBN), with support from MEASURE Evaluation. It found that health records management is evolving across the world—including in developing countries—and that training programs need to evolve to meet the increasing application of ICT in this sector.

After several sessions among stakeholders in Nigeria, a new curriculum that addresses all the identified educational deficiencies was designed to equip graduates of health information management programs with skills to be able to function effectively in health facilities and in other professional roles. The curriculum creates new opportunities in Nigeria for improving the quality of health information management training programs and increasing the number of skilled health information management professionals, a step that will in turn strengthen the health system. The authors of the review noted, however, that implementing the new curriculum requires investment in qualified tutors in fields such as ICT, health informatics, electronic medical records, database management, and M&E.

Access the journal article.

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