Where is information quality lost at clinical level? A mixed-method study on information systems and data quality in three urban Kenyan ANC clinics

Glob Health Action. 2013 Aug 29;6:21424. doi: 10.3402/gha.v6i0.21424.


Background: Well-working health information systems are considered vital with the quality of health data ranked of highest importance for decision making at patient care and policy levels. In particular, health facilities play an important role, since they are not only the entry point for the national health information system but also use health data (and primarily) for patient care.

Design: A multiple case study was carried out between March and August 2012 at the antenatal care (ANC) clinics of two private and one public Kenyan hospital to describe clinical information systems and assess the quality of information. The following methods were developed and employed in an iterative process: workplace walkthroughs, structured and in-depth interviews with staff members, and a quantitative assessment of data quality (completeness and accurate transmission of clinical information and reports in ANC). Views of staff and management on the quality of employed information systems, data quality, and influencing factors were captured qualitatively.

Results: Staff rated the quality of information higher in the private hospitals employing computers than in the public hospital which relies on paper forms. Several potential threats to data quality were reported. Limitations in data quality were common at all study sites including wrong test results, missing registers, and inconsistencies in reports. Feedback was seldom on content or quality of reports and usage of data beyond individual patient care was low.

Conclusions: We argue that the limited data quality has to be seen in the broader perspective of the information systems in which it is produced and used. The combination of different methods has proven to be useful for this. To improve the effectiveness and capabilities of these systems, combined measures are needed which include technical and organizational aspects (e.g. regular feedback to health workers) and individual skills and motivation.

Keywords: Kenya; antenatal care; clinical information system; data quality; health information system; information and communication technology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Health Information Systems / standards*
  • Hospitals, Private / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Public / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Prenatal Care / organization & administration
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design / standards*