openIMIS – Digital contribution to UHC
It's that time again: 12 December, International Universal Health Coverage Day. Every year on this day, advocates worldwide mobilize to call for strong, equitable health systems that leave no one behind.
More and more countries are committing to and working towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Since the ratification in 2015 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including UHC, the index that measures coverage of indispensable health services shows progress towards UHC in all regions and income brackets. According to the 2019 Global Monitoring Report on UHC, however, the rate of progress has slowed in recent years. According to the report, it is expected that at the current rate, the global population covered by vital health services could range between 39 to 63 percent by 2030. This indicates that countries need to intensify their efforts to achieve UHC. The report therefore encourages governments to enact health-financing reforms and to increase efficiency and equity as further channels to advance UHC.
Health systems regularly capture a wealth of data on individuals, their families, their treatment, their health care costs, diagnosis patterns, prescribing behaviour, cost of service provision and other information. Such data is needed to measure and improve the performance of health systems. When not captured in digital form, data is difficult to operationalize and use. A crucial element for UHC is therefore a health information system (HIS) that works well. However, many low- and middle-income countries have a weak HIS that leads to a deficit of health information and data required for decision-making. As a result, inefficiencies in budget allocation and spending are difficult to measure and to reduce.
openIMIS is a software that helps manage health financing processes and links patients, health care providers and payers for health care. Linking funding to health services helps improve the strategic purchasing and output-based funding of health care. openIMIS also helps generate, collect and analyze health information. The software allows tracking of the diagnosis, of health services provided and of medicines prescribed to a patient. It also provides policy and decision makers with current data on population coverage, health service provision and medicine consumption. The data can be disaggregated in a number of ways including by gender, age group and geographic location. This is particularly useful in planning budgets, staff and the required medicines. It is also essential for managing health care expenditure and for the financial sustainability of schemes, while simultaneously monitoring service provision.
In summary, value for money and allocative efficiency are hard to measure and improve without data. By providing necessary health data to decision makers, openIMIS is a tool that contributes to the achievement of UHC by increasing the efficiency of health care systems as well as by reducing resource waste.
 Primary health care on the road to universal health coverage: 2019 monitoring report. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019(WHO/HIS/HGF/19.1). License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.