Background: The Comprehensive Rural Health Services Project Ballabgarh, run by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi has a computerized Health Management Information System (HMIS) since 1988. The HMIS at Ballabgarh has undergone evolution and is currently in its third version which uses generic and open source software. This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a computerized Health Management Information System in rural health system in India.
Methods: The data for evaluation were collected by in-depth interviews of the stakeholders i.e. program managers (authors) and health workers. Health Workers from AIIMS and Non-AIIMS Primary Health Centers were interviewed to compare the manual with computerized HMIS. A cost comparison between the two methods was carried out based on market costs. The resource utilization for both manual and computerized HMIS was identified based on workers' interviews.
Results: There have been no major hardware problems in use of computerized HMIS. More than 95% of data was found to be accurate. Health workers acknowledge the usefulness of HMIS in service delivery, data storage, generation of workplans and reports. For program managers, it provides a better tool for monitoring and supervision and data management. The initial cost incurred in computerization of two Primary Health Centers was estimated to be Indian National Rupee (INR) 1674,217 (USD 35,622). Equivalent annual incremental cost of capital items was estimated as INR 198,017 (USD 4213). The annual savings is around INR 894,283 (USD 11,924).
Conclusion: The major advantage of computerization has been in saving of time of health workers in record keeping and report generation. The initial capital costs of computerization can be recovered within two years of implementation if the system is fully operational. Computerization has enabled implementation of a good system for service delivery, monitoring and supervision.