A national health information system (HIS) includes elements and processes designed to produce information that can be used to improve decision-making across the health sector.
According to the World Health Organization, a health information system “provides the underpinnings for decision-making and has four key functions: data generation, compilation, analysis and synthesis, and communication and use. The health information system collects data from the health sector and other relevant sectors, analyses the data and ensures their overall quality, relevance and timeliness, and converts data into information for health-related decision-making.”¹
A robust HIS can not only alert governments to outbreaks and potential emergencies, it can also support high-quality patient care and health facility management, health situation analyses and planning, and trend analyses and reporting.
As countries advance from paper-based to electronic reporting systems, then to interoperable systems with linked health data, existing capacity gaps are exacerbated and new demands emerge.
To learn more about HIS:
- Framework and Standards for Country Health Information Systems, Second Edition. 2012. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- “Health Information Systems” in Monitoring the Building Blocks of Health Systems: A Handbook of Indicators and Their Measurement Strategies. 2010. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Monitoring, Evaluation, and Review of National Health Strategies. 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- “What Are the Characteristics of a Strong Health Information System?” 2018. Chapel Hill, NC: MEASURE Evaluation.
¹ Source: World Health Organization. 2008. Health Information Systems: Toolkit on Monitoring Health Systems Strengthening.