Posted by Chhitij Bashyal
With my old laptop and hefty community health worker (CHW) log books, I still remember basking in the sun on our Sanfe Clinic roof back in 2008. While digging through the weekly reports of our community health workers, even the thought of refining data collection and analysis process so to inform program improvement seemed full of both practical and technical challenges. Envisioning an organization in which operations are driven by continual, iterative monitoring and evaluation, reinforced by the “transparency until it hurts” principle, our teams in Achham and our volunteers in the US Data Team have put in countless amounts of time and brain power over the years to overcome difficulties with innovative and simple solutions. We certainly have come a long way in not only improving the data collection mechanisms of our clinical staff in the hospital and community health workers in the field, but also in making sure that data tells an actionable story. After all, collection of data is irrelevant (and even counterproductive) if hundreds of data points from thousands of patients are not presented in a digestible form to be analyzed and used in program planning and improvement. Data must come alive. With this goal, in this blog, we are excited to showcase the latest development in data visualization and analysis techniques and other ideas that we have in the pipeline.
To make the data from our clinic and community health programs available in an aggregated form in our wiki, we have developed two specific platforms for easier data analysis and visualization. First is the interactive data visualization platform for a more rigorous analysis and comparison of data. Second is the picture-based platform that allows for easy visualization of data. Below we present the tools in detail.
- Interactive Data Visualization Platform:
We have developed an interactive data analysis platform for our Achham and US based-technical teams. This publicly available platform allows our technical teams to monitor clinical and community health indicators (which are collected and reported monthly), and to conduct time-series, cross-tabulation, and spatial (geographical) analyses. The platform uses StatPlanet, an open-source application that was developed with funding from the World Bank for non-commercial and not-for-profit use. One of the key advantages of the tool is the ease with which data can be updated and presented using simple pre-configured Excel files.
- Graphs View:
We have also developed a platform that presents a slideshow of key graphs for our partners and donors who are mostly interested in key figures. The graphs are generated automatically using an Excel macro, and are presented using Picasa album slideshow in our Wiki.
In addition to making data accessible to our technical teams, international partners, and supporters, we are also formulating a mechanism to build local capacity for our staff to interpret and publicize the fruits of their hard work to our patients. In our pipeline are two pilots: [a] showcasing our data on the TV located in the patient waiting area, and [b] displaying graphs, printed from the “Graphs View” platform (described above) on the staff room data board. We will continue to make data analysis and interpretation a critical component of staff meetings.
Chhitij Bashyal is a graduate of the MPA in Development Practice from Columbia University. He is a volunteer for Nyaya Health.