Online Program

Just the essentials - Reducing indicators for analysis promotes data use

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 11:22 a.m. - 11:35 a.m.

Paul Amendola, MPH, International Rescue Committee, New York, NY
Ashley Wolfington, MPH, Health Unit, International Rescue Commmittee, New York, NY
Nathaly Spilotros, MPH, MIA, Health Unit, International Rescue Committee, New York, NY
By managing the structure for a simple database, data collection for a multi-country family planning project was able to focus on presenting the end user with only key indicators that promoted health facility-level decision making. Managing data for a three country program in a developing context is not simple - there are data requirements from donors, headquarters organization, and from different ministries of health. A database needed to be designed that would allow for simple data collection, but also needed to be used by field-level health officers with minimal training. Having too much data can be a drawback - key decisions and trends can be lost in a sea of numbers. As a solution, a key set of essential indicators was automatically generated from all of the data being collected. Health managers in health facilities in 4 country programs - Pakistan, Chad, DR Congo, and Myanmar - had monthly data requirements for reporting and needed to use a standalone database for management. The program tracked the distribution of family planning devices in rural health facilities where internet and mobile coverage was not even a possibility. From this dataset being entered locally, analysis on key indicators was automatically generated. Program staff were trained on action points for only key indicators while learning how to contextualize indicator progress. Instead of spending time on managing a large dataset, time was spent on training for action based on a smaller, essential set of outcome indicators. Using the same database has allowed progress to be tracked for over three years while the core set of indicators has not changed significantly. There are key lessons learned from this program that we have applied to similar programs – use fewer indicators, standardize analysis presentation, suggest action points, and structure simple data management.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate that by reducing a users view of data to only what is necessary for decision-making, the usability of a database is increased and the quality of data improved. Describe the process of focusing a user by limiting the analysis of data allows a better understanding of the data. Discuss the impact of too much data being confusing and overwhelming to users. Too much data can be as dangerous as not having enough data for decision-making.

Keyword(s): Decision-Making, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Reproductive Health Specialist at the IRC and lead monitoring and evaluation efforts for the reproductive health team. I routinely provide technical support for this project and data initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.