Reaching new interoperability milestones for health information systems in Ghana

Held at the Kofi-Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT in Accra, Ghana, 20th – 24th September 2010, this event saw data managers from the West African Health Organisation region take part in a 4 day workshop with the aim to reach the following goals: 

  • Build capacity of Ministry of Health staff in the Economic Community Of West African States related to current and planned implementation of Hospital Information System (HIS) software, particularly iHRIS (for human resource management) and DHIS (for general health management).
  • Build a network of Ministries of Health, their staff, implementers, researchers, developers in the region and beyond to facilitate sharing of experiences and knowledge for HIS strengthening.
  • Review the architecture of iHRIS, DHIS2 and other Open Source applications in use or intended to be used in the computerisation of health information systems (HIS) in the region.

The workshop attracted data managers and other Ghana IT professionals from the World Health Organisation HQ, University of Oslo, Health Metrics Network, Health Information Systems Program and Centre of Disease Control, along with blue-infinity's Microsoft Solution Architects Gary Patchen and Xavier Bocken. These key contributors to the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange Health Domain (SDMX-HD) were also there to use the SDMX-HD standard to connect Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems together and to promote interoperability amongst clinical and HR systems.

 After quite a bit of discussion, and several hours of programming, a milestone was reached on Friday 24th.

Friday began with a joint presentation by Patrick Whitaker (WHO) and Bob Jolliffe (University of Oslo). Showcasing live, they explained how indicator definitions and metadata can be obtained from WHO’s Indicator and Measurement Registry and transferred to DHIS2, to enable data exchange based on a shared Data Structure Definition file between DHIS, iHRIS and OpenMRS . The result of this is the ability for data exchange between international, national, district and facility levels. The demonstration was based on existing software and real-life datasets from Sierra Leone, following their defined reporting needs.

This is the first time such interoperability among these systems has been achieved. This important milestone was highlighted by the presence of Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Health, M. Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo at the closing ceremony .

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About the author

Xavier Bocken
Xavier Bocken

Xavier Bocken leads the Microsoft Solutions practice at blue-infinity, a team of nearly 40 consultants focusing on Systems Integration, Custom Applications Development, SharePoint and Cloud solutions for major international clients across Western Switzerland.