Background: Health information is required for a variety of purposes at all levels of a health system, and a workforce skilled in collecting, analysing, presenting, and disseminating such information is essential to fulfil these demands. While it is established that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are facing shortages in human resources for health (HRH), there has been little systematic attention focussed on non-clinical competencies. In response, we developed a framework that defines the minimum health information competencies required by health workers at various levels of a health system.
Methods: Using the Delphi method, we consulted with leading global health information system (HIS) experts. An initial list of competencies and draft framework were developed based on results of a systematic literature review. During the second half of 2012, we sampled 38 experts with broad-based HIS knowledge and extensive development experience. Two rounds of consultation were carried out with the same group to establish validity of the framework and gain feedback on the draft competencies. Responses from consultations were analysed using Qualtrics® software and content analysis.
Results: In round one, 17 experts agreed to participate in the consultation and 11 (65%) completed the survey. In the second round, 11 experts agreed to participate and eight (73%) completed the survey. Overall, respondents agreed that there is a need for all health workers to have basic HIS competencies and that the concept of a minimum HIS competency framework is valid. Consensus was reached around the inclusion of 68 competencies across four levels of a health system.
Conclusions: This consultation is one of the first to identify the HIS competencies required among general health workers, as opposed to specialist HIS roles. It is also one of the first attempts to develop a framework on minimum HIS competencies needed in LMICs, highlighting the skills needed at each level of the system, and identifying potential gaps in current training to allow a more systematic approach to HIS capacity-building.