Subject Guide: Human Resource for Health Information Systems

Ministry of health staff using an HRIS system in Uganda

To make the best use of current resources and plan for the future, a country needs to know how many health workers it has, what their qualifications and skills are, where they are posted, and how many new workers are likely to join them. Many low-resource countries face daunting obstacles to meeting the health care needs of their people. Without current, accurate data on health workers, countries cannot ensure that the right provider is in the right place with the right skills.1

Increasingly, systems for collecting and disseminating information on a country's health workforce, human resources information systems (HRIS), are becoming an integral component to national human resources for health (HRH) performance assessment and systems strengthening frameworks. Functional HRIS models involve standardized processes for data capture, management, and use that provide accurate, timely, and comprehensive profiles of workforce size, composition, and deployment. When comprehensively designed and implemented, HRIS empower decision makers to anticipate a variety of HRH issues, such as an insufficient supply of younger workers entering the health system who can offset employee departures due to retirement, death, or out-migration.2

How an HRIS works

HRIS facilitate meaningful integration of workforce data across multiple information points, for example, by ensuring health ministries (and other employers) that the health professionals on staffing or payroll records are appropriately credentialed and qualified to practice based on registries of professional regulatory bodies. They are used to collate data on workers in government-operated health facilities, private (for-profit or non-profit) and government facilities, as well as those working outside of facility-based service delivery. The systems collect data on all human resources: physicians, nurses, and midwives, plus other categories of allied health professionals and technicians, as well as the management and support personnel necessary for sound health system functioning. In addition, linking HRIS data with broader health information – such as disease burden, health services utilization, and patient outcomes – can be a powerful tool in prioritizing resource allocation for health worker training and deployment in order to meet health system goals.2

Addressing the Issue

The HRH Global Resource Center collection contains materials on health information systems and information system development as well as a free eLearning course, iHRIS Administrator – Level 1, on how to administer IntraHealth International's open source iHRIS software. The course is also available in Spanish.

Recommended reading:

1 CapacityPlus. Health Worker Information Systems, 2011.

2 Riley PL et al. "Information Systems on Human Resources for Health: A Global Review," Human Resources for Health 10:7. 2012.