PHC in the News

Key Steps Toward Use of Data for PHC Improvement: Outcomes of the PHCPI Collaborative 3rd Meeting

Since the launch of the PHC Measurement for Improvement Collaborative in April 2016, the group has worked to develop a unique tool: the PHC Indicator Inventory. This interactive, excel-based program consolidates and standardizes indicators from nine countries to allow for assessment of breadth and quality of information collected. Countries can observe where data gaps exist and learn what indicators other countries use to fill these gaps. Throughout the meeting, participants engaged in open dialogue of evidence-based strategies to improve data quality in priority measurement areas and discussed how the collaborative might facilitate knowledge-sharing through a practical measurement toolkit.

A strong theme that emerged out of group dialogue was the balance between actionable indicators at the national and subnational level and comparable indicators at the global level. As evidenced in the PHC Indicator Inventory, countries often collect indicators adapted to their local context, which are not always comparable at the global level. Rather than seeing these differences as a challenge, however, the collaborative saw the potential to promote a two-way dialogue between countries and the global community, ensuring that global guidance reflected country experiences. This dialogue will be important to address priority measurement areas identified by the group: outlining improvement pathways across stages of development will be a key feature of the toolkit and may serve as a “call-to-action” that helps nations effectively tackle challenges of data quality and management.

Defining priority measurement areas, however, is only part of the challenge. Disparate data collection systems within countries challenges information accessibility and underscores the need for unified reporting and information communication mechanisms. Identifying stakeholders at different levels of the system and creating a shared understanding and process for implementing data use requirements between data producers and data users is a key component of producing data that are targeted, actionable, and used effectively for improvement. In this area, too, countries can learn from one another. Variability across countries allows for “positive outliers”, or high-performers in specific areas, to share the pathways taken in their country to achieve this high performance and lessons that were learned along the way.

In the coming months, the collaborative has identified priority toolkit chapters to be drafted in the months leading up to the next in-person workshop: 

  • What to Measure: The collaborative will continue to develop the PHC Indicator Inventory by adding globally recognized indicators from sources such as the World Health Organization, and health-related sustainable development goals
  • How to Measure: Implementation guidance for how to determine which methods are best to measure technical and experiential quality
  • How to Manage Disparate Data Sources: Guidance on assessing data warehouse requirements and common Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for a data warehouse at the country level
  • How to Present Data to Stakeholders: Identification of data user groups and development of user profiles at different levels of the system and implementation guidance around communicating data and results with user groups to drive accountability and use

As the meeting drew to a close, participants reflected on what they had learned and many noted measurement strategies they hoped to see incorporated into their own national health systems. In the months leading up to the next in-person meeting, much excitement was generated by the proposal to continue conversations and practice sharing via virtual engagement platforms.

A guiding value of the Measurement for Improvement Collaborative is that "you can't improve what you can't measure." The PHC Indicator Inventory, and the creation of a comprehensive toolkit, are key steps to enable countries to foster a culture of measurement for improvement. 


This article was originally posted on February 21, 2017 on the Joint Learning Network news portal.