By Samantha Dolan, Intern, BID Initiative
May 23, 2018
Earlier this month, PATH and the BID Initiative participated in the “Teach to Reach: Innovative Methods for Immunization Training” workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from May 1-3. This three-day hands-on forum provided participants with an opportunity to use a design-thinking approach to tackle issues related to workforce performance within immunization programs. Approximately 100 participants from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and other global partners attended the workshop. BID participated in a number of sessions, including a well-received demonstration of the Tanzania Immunization Registry (TImR) during the opening night of the workshop.
Throughout the workshop, participants broke into groups and interacted with training and capacity building subject-matter experts to tackle their specific issues, routinely soliciting feedback from other participants in their group to develop training solutions. I participated in the Data and Measurement Group to get ideas about how best to use the data generated by TImR and the Zambia Electronic Immunization Registry (ZEIR) to improve immunization program supervision, feedback, and sustained use of the tools. The individual-level data generated by the electronic immunization registries (EIRs) provides a rich source of information that can be used by program managers to gain better insight into the performance of facilities and gaps in immunization coverage among their catchment population. Through each of the workshop sessions, I was able to think strategically about how to use these new data to change behavior and improve performance through hands-on activities, gaining insight into what has worked for other projects, and engaging in structured discussions with numerous colleagues.
What stood out to me the most during the workshop is the novelty of the EIRs. Several participants mentioned the need to create a “data use culture” among healthcare workers (HCWs) and supervisors. The EIRs offer the perfect platform for users to gain greater access to their population’s data to better understand and take action for improving program performance. As a member of the BID Analytics Team, we think about data use often. As we dig into the data generated by TImR and ZEIR we are constantly coming up with new and interesting metrics to inform performance measurement. In the coming months we hope to gather feedback from expanded program on immunization supervisors about which metrics are most helpful for them in order to better tailor our analyses and inform future reporting modules that use EIR data. Additionally, these types of electronic solutions allow us to think about future updates that could be made to the EIRs to facilitate capacity building for data use; prompts and reminders can be generated within the system, along with tools to assist HCWs with using their data for decision-making. Using individual-level data can provide a more accurate and in-depth snapshot of the immunization coverage of a population. Using these data along with the electronic functionality of the tablet-based EIRs increases the number and types of opportunities for data use capacity building interventions.
From its earliest days, the BID Initiative has worked to foster a culture of data use in which HCWs are motivated and enabled to access, analyze, and use data. By leveraging the individual-level data generated by the EIRs, we can enable staff to use data to make better informed decisions. The Teach to Reach workshop created a comfortable atmosphere to brainstorm and discuss capacity-building ideas, it highlighted the potential and value of the EIRs in both Tanzania and Zambia, and made me excited for the future work of the BID Analytics Team as we continue to explore the many options for accessing and using data within immunization programs.