Perceptions and experiences with district health information system software to collect and utilize health data in Bangladesh: a qualitative exploratory study

  • Authors: Begum T Khan SM Adamou B Ferdous J Parvez MM Islam MS Kumkum FA Rahman A Anwar I.


"Background Accurate and high-quality data are important for improving program effectiveness and informing policy. In 2009 Bangladesh’s health management information system (HMIS) adopted the District Health Information Software, Version 2 (DHIS2) to capture real-time health service utilization data. However, routinely collected data are being underused because of poor data quality and reporting. We aimed to understand the facilitators and barriers to implementing DHIS2 as a way to retrieve meaningful and accurate data for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services. Methods This qualitative study was conducted in two districts of Bangladesh from September 2017 to 2018. Data collection included key informant interviews (n = 11), in-depth interviews (n = 23), and focus group discussions (n = 2). The study participants were involved with DHIS2 implementation from the community level to the national level. The data were analyzed thematically. Results DHIS2 could improve the timeliness and completeness of data reporting over time. The reported facilitating factors were strong government commitment, extensive donor support, and positive attitudes toward technology among staff. Quality checks and feedback loops at multiple levels of data gathering points are helpful for minimizing data errors. Introducing a dashboard makes DHIS2 compatible to use as a monitoring tool. Barriers to effective DHIS2 implementation were lack of human resources, slow Internet connectivity, frequent changes to DHIS2 versions, and maintaining both manual and electronic system side-by-side. The data in DHIS2 remains incomplete because it does not capture data from private health facilities. Having two parallel HMIS reporting the same RMNCAH indicators threatens data quality and increases the reporting workload. Conclusion The overall insights from this study are expected to contribute to the development of effective strategies for successful DHIS2 implementation and building a responsive HMIS. Focused strategic direction is needed to sustain the achievements of digital data culture. Periodic refresher trainings, incentives for increased performance, and an automated single reporting system for multiple stakeholders could make the system more user-friendly. A national electronic health strategy and implementation framework can facilitate creating a culture of DHIS2 use for planning, setting priorities, and decision making among stakeholder groups."