Journal Article

Introduction of digital reporting platform to integrate community-level data into health information systems is feasible and acceptable among various community health stakeholders: A mixed-methods pilot study in Mopti, Mali

Background
Integration of community-level health data within Mali’s web-based District Health Information System (DHIS2) is underexplored. This study conducted in Mopti, Mali examined challenges and enablers affecting integration and investigated how digital technology optimizes data quality, availability, and use.

Methods
This pre-post mixed-methods study compared community health workers’ (CHWs’) experiences reporting routine community-level data using the DHIS2 digital application on tablets and paper forms. 141 CHWs participated in quantitative surveys and focus group discussions at baseline and endline. In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 and eight CHW supervisors and 12 and 11 other stakeholders at baseline and endline, respectively. We calculated changes in CHW performance, and job satisfaction among intervention and comparison groups using the difference-in-difference (DID) estimator controlling for baseline characteristics. Routine longitudinal DHIS2 data described timeliness and completeness of CHW reporting. Thematic analysis of qualitative data explained implementation challenges and enablers, and considerations for data use.

Results
The median number of health talks and household visits among intervention group CHWs increased from baseline to endline compared to the comparison group (DID estimator; P < 0.05 for both), as did aspects of job satisfaction (satisfaction with opportunities to contribute ideas to improve services and coordination with supervisors and stakeholders, P < 0.1). CHWs reported high levels of comfort and confidence navigating the tablet for data collection and on-time reporting. While CHWs experienced challenges –tablet quality, limited network connection and increased workload, they preferred the digital to paper system. Stakeholder, supervisor and CHW roles in data review and decision-making appear unchanged from baseline to endline, though some supervisors found the tablets improved data timeliness and completeness. Routine longitudinal DHIS2 data confirm high rates of data timeliness and completeness before and after the intervention, with little or no change over time.

Conclusions
CHW tablet use for data collection and reporting is feasible and desirable, however, program and policy changes are needed for this to be a fully-functional system. Future efforts need to consider how to ensure site-level network connectivity; quality, compatibility and functionality of digital technology; and routine supportive systems for CHWs and community health actors on data use.

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