Monitoring and Tracking Data Quality and Use
By Emily Carnahan, Monitoring & Evaluation Lead
Aug 6, 2014
Posted in Monitoring & Evaluation
One of the first things you may have learned about the BID Initiative is our belief that better data, plus better decisions, will lead to better health outcomes. We’re investing in this premise by introducing interventions related to information system products and the practices of people who use them. But how will we know that these BID interventions are being implemented as intended? And how will we know if there are associated improvements in data quality and increased data use for decision-making?
This is where monitoring and evaluation (M&E) comes in. As we roll out interventions, it’s important to monitor and evaluate our progress in order to improve implementation, demonstrate to our donor that we’re being effective, and capture findings to be shared with other key stakeholders. Through a collaborative process with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we developed an M&E framework and set of indicators to measure four key BID Initiative outcomes: improved data quality, increased data use for decision-making, implementation at scale, and commitment of additional resources.
The initial roll out of BID interventions will occur in the Northern Zone of Tanzania, comprised of four regions, 30 districts, and over 1200 health facilities. Prior to broad implementation across the Northern Zone, we’ll collect “baseline” data to capture information related to the first two outcomes: data quality and data use for decision-making. This will serve as our first data point to assess the current, pre-intervention level of data quality and data use, and will be the first point to subsequently monitor key performance indicators over time.
With over 1200 health facilities in the Northern Zone, it’s not feasible or necessary to collect data in every single health facility. Instead, we’ve identified an illustrative sample of sites across the Northern Zone that includes representation from dimensions important to the initiative: the geography (we’ll include urban, peri-urban, rural, and border areas) and the health system level (we’ll include sites at the regional and district levels, as well as hospitals, health centers, and dispensaries). This will give us a signal of pre-intervention data quality and use in a sample of sites across the Northern Zone.
In order to collect baseline data, we designed a data collection tool that captures existing data related to immunization delivery at each site. The tool also includes structured interviews with key data users at each level of the health system to ask about current data use practices. Members of the BID M&E team are in the field this week (August 4-8) to pilot test and refine these data collection tools and ensure that they’re ready for baseline data collection in the next few months.
By focusing on M&E from the beginning, we’ll have a robust process for monitoring the BID Initiative implementation, which will give us key information about baseline levels of data quality and data use and allow us to monitor changes in these outcomes over time. In addition, we’re developing evaluation activities to gather critical information on the impact of the BID interventions. We’ll monitor “better data” and “better decisions,” and complementary evaluation activities can tell us whether better data, plus better decisions in fact leads to measurable improvements in service delivery outcomes and ultimately results in better health outcomes.