Five months ago as I sat here in Seattle, I found it a difficult exercise to imagine the performance of our health system strengthening programs operating worlds away from my desk chair. Even though geographically much closer, local health staff and management also face the same challenge caused by the extreme difficulty to pull routine data out of these rural, remote communities. Yet an understanding of the performance at this level is critical for health system improvement.
Now, five months after the implementation of our information system, local health staff and I are now starting to see this health system data.
In partnership with the Ministry of Health, my colleagues and I at VillageReach implemented a internet-enabled logistics management information system (LMIS) called vrMIS to provide information management to our health system strengthening program in the three northern provinces of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado, Niassa, and Nampula, serving a population of over 7 million people.
vrMIS, an application of the open source LMIS platform called openLMIS, collects routine data and then provides reporting analysis to health workers and their management in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the supply chain from the provincial medical supply warehouse down to the health center or what we call the “last mile” of the health system.
Five months since vrMIS was implemented, I can see the data uploaded by the health staff. It’s incredible to see data from these health centers as well as powerfully insightful. I see medical supply inventory levels for these health centers. I see the number of tetanus vaccinations given last month. I see the refrigerator at a particular health center is currently not functioning correctly because of a leak in the gas line. I can see so many things. Upon further review, I start identifying performance trends and from this areas for improvement.
vrMIS shines a light on the last mile of the health system – all the way down to the health center level. This illumination provides new insights to the reasons why a health system is performing the way it is and enables management to take informed, appropriate action.
Still in Seattle, I can stop trying to imagine the performance of the health system. Now, I just open an Internet browser.