The wider context of HIS can be comprehensively described through the information cycle presented in Figure 1.1 below. The information cycle pictorially depicts the different components, stages and processes through which the data is collected, checked for quality, processed, analysed and used.
DHIS 2 supports the different facets of the information cycle including:
Running quality checks.
Data access at multiple levels.
Making graphs and maps and other forms of analysis.
Enabling comparison across time (for example, previous months) and space (for example, across facilities and districts).
See trends (displaying data in time series to see their min and max levels).
As a first step, DHIS 2 serves as a data collection, recording and compilation tool, and all data (be it in numbers or text form) can be entered into it. Data entry can be done in lists of data elements or in customised user defined forms which can be developed to mimic paper based forms in order to ease the process of data entry.
As a next step, DHIS 2 can be used to increase data quality. First, at the point of data entry, a check can be made to see if data falls within acceptable range levels of minimum and maximum values for any particular data element. Such checking, for example, can help to identify typing errors at the time of data entry. Further, user can define various validation rules, and DHIS 2 can run the data through the validation rules to identify violations. These types of checks help to ensure that data entered into the system is of good quality from the start, and can be improved by the people who are most familiar with it.
When data has been entered and verified, DHIS 2 can help to make different kinds of reports. The first kind are the routine reports that can be predefined, so that all those reports that need to be routine generated can be done on a click of a button. Further, DHIS 2 can help in the generation of analytical reports through comparisons of for example indicators across facilities or over time. Graphs, maps, reports and health profiles are among the outputs that DHIS 2 can produce, and these should routinely be produced, analysed, and acted upon by health managers.