Data plays a critical role in making informed decisions which lead to better health programs and better health outcomes. But when it comes to data and analytics of large public health programs, I have often seen a big divide between demand and delivery. By and large, by the time the required data and analysis is made available, the need for the information becomes redundant. Timeliness aside, it is rarely that the quality of data demanded and supplied, correspond. Given the exponential increase in the number of sources and the sheer volume of data, this gap is ever widening. And this makes one ponder if this divide can ever be bridged.
What impressed me though is the vertical specific solution adopted by the Concurrent Monitoring & Learning team of Bihar Technical Support Program. Reports are made available online within 25 days post collection, and that too complete with back-checks and validation. This is phenomenal considering that raw data flows in constantly from across 534 blocks of the state. What is even more surprising is that only a small part of the collection process uses digital android-based tools.
The way this works is that surveys are conducted using paper based tools. This data then undergoes a process of back-checks. Once the data is found satisfactory, it’s then sent to the central data centre in Patna where the data is entered into the system, checked for inconsistencies and then validated.
All this while, the entire process can be tracked by relevant stakeholders on the CML portal. One can see how much of the data is entered, validated, and how much is yet to be. Validated data are available real-time in the form of reports on the portal. This fastens critical decision- making leading to desired outcomes.
The next step would be to see how this tool can be adopted across more programmes, however diverse they may be.