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Blog: Blog2

Strategic Information - Data use by data producers in a resource-limited setting

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

In the development world, specifically the health sector, to assess achievement, improve interventions and ultimately achieve the intended result, an organization providing support to health facilities must collect and report strategic information to donors using a data flow that starts at the site level to a macro-level (central level).

The flow

Current situation

The organization generally puts a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) information system that relies on a substantial human resource presence to periodically visit each intervention site to gather and report raw data into the MEL information system. This data is then aggregated and analyzed at a macro-level, where the different questions for interpreting the data are made and then transmitted to the manager of the site and/or program for answers.

However, the systems generally available at the site level are focused on collecting data to report rather than answering programmatic questions from the site personnel, contributing to the minimal data use by service providers (data producers).

Improving Data Use

To maximize a MEL information system’s utility and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page, decision-makers must ensure that data producers use the data and provide them with access to the macro-level information. This gives data users a dynamic picture of how each data element they produce contributes to their primary goal. Likewise, it is also essential that decision-making stakeholders at the macro level be able to dive into the detailed site-level data to identify where a specific intervention may be needed quickly.

Considering the scarcity of resources in those settings, how can we ensure this happens?

Where sites have electronic systems, decision-makers must ensure that these systems produce helpful information for the site, allowing the data producers to visualize real-time and dynamic dashboards with trends on key indicators used to track performance.

Data Collection | XL Consultoria, LDA

Where the information is manually aggregated, the systems that aggregate the data at a macro level should be able to provide feedback to all sites in a timely fashion, with dynamic dashboards illustrating trends for key indicators and other critical information.

The main advantage that comes from the use of data by the personnel that provides services is the realization that what they are filling in the forms is reflected in the data being reported influencing the quality of the data and, ultimately, the service being provided.

Recommended Tools

Software programs can be used to boost the use of data, each program has its utility depending on the aim. The main criteria to be considered when choosing the best program depends on the answer to this question: what resources are available and can be enhanced without the need to buy new software and demand training from scratch for the data users, taking into consideration the variability of knowledge of data analysis and statistics?

In resource-limited settings, most computers come equipped with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office installed, and the personnel is minimally proficient in the Microsoft Office programs.

Microsoft Excel provides an immediate solution to maximize data use, enabling users to analyze the data as they wish quickly. With MS Excel, it is also possible to have a descriptive data analysis, using pivot tables and slices to visualize it at different granularity (site to central level).

Other systems include DHIS2, Tableau, Rshiny, PowerBI, and Google Studio.



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