Chapter 7. Integration

Table of Contents

7.1. Integration and interoperability
7.2. Benefits of integration
7.3. What facilitates integration and interoperability
7.4. Architecture of interoperable HIS

This chapter will discuss the following topics:

In the following each topic will be discussed in greater detail.

7.1. Integration and interoperability

In a country there will usually be many different, isolated health information systems. The reasons for this are many, both technical and organizational. Here the focus will be on what benefits integration of these systems will bring, and why it should be a priority. First, a couple of clarifications:

  • When talking about integration, we think about the process of making different information systems appear as one, i.e. data from them to be available to all relevant users as well as the harmonization of definitions and dimensions so that it is possible to combine the data in useful ways.

  • A related concept is interoperability, which is one strategy to achieve integration. For purposes related to DHIS2, we say that it is interoperable with other software applications if it is able to share data with this. For example, DHIS2 and OpenMRS are interoperable, because there is support in both to share data definitions and data with each other.

To say that something is integrated, then, means that they share something, and that they are available from one place, while interoperability usually means that they are able to do this sharing electronically. DHIS2 is often used as an integrated data warehouse, since it contains (aggregate) data from various sources, such as Mother and Child health, Malaria program, census data, and data on stocks and human resources. These data sources share the same platform, DHIS2, and are available all from the same place. These subsystems are thus considered integrated into one system. Interoperability will then be a useful way to integrate also those data sources available on also other software applications. For example, if census data is stored in some other database, interoperability between this database and DHIS2 would mean census data would be accessible in both (but only stored one place).