Developing Data Elements for Research Information System in Health; a Starting Point for Systems Integration

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: This study defines necessary data elements required for the research information system in the domain of health, and its level of accountability to national health research indicators from the experts' perspective is being explored.

Methods: This qualitative study was conducted based on comparative approach using the focus group method. Data were collected through 6 semi-structured group discussions held at the Undersecretary for Research and Technology, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran. For this study, 48 researchers were selected for the group discussions. All interviews and group discussions were recorded and transcribed. The Data analysis was performed simultaneously using Strauss and Corbin method.

Results: Based on content analysis, the necessary data elements identified for the National Health Research Information System designed for all databases were the following: organizations, researchers, journals, articles, research projects and dissertations. Also, extracted from the focus group discussion were three main themes regarding data elements of these databases for the National Health Research Information System: 1) essential elements for each database 2) the system's data elements accountability to the national indicators in the domain of health research and 3) recommendations in the direction of optimizing the data.

Conclusions: The results obtained from this study can serve as a valuable source in designing research information system in the domain of health within the country and in the region as well.

Keywords: Databases, Data elements, Health, Research, Research information system

Introduction

Nowadays, enhancing information management in managing an organization is essential (1). Studies have shown that in the 20th century, 80% of scientific productions were related to science and technology (2). Scientific works requires information, and also the essential part of information is derived from previous works (3).

The world of education, technology, and research is also faced with increasing complexity and universities are the obvious examples of these changes, research is an area that transversely affects the whole activity of a university (4). The amount of information available in consideration to the current state of knowledge is growing quickly and largely in an uncontrolled manner (5). In Europe, it is estimated that the cost of research duplication alone is approximately 20 billion Euros per year (6). But today every institutions and knowledge centers are well aware that research process must be managed similarly to education process (4). On the other side, industrial and service innovations have compelled the academia in pushing the boundaries of research and development. Government decision makers and policymakers and research centers need to have easy access to research data (7) therefore, the possibility of exchanging information must be propagated in order that research information clients are able to access information through a uniform and equal interface (7, 8).

With the increasing pace of information technology, researchers are faced with a fundamental problem; information in the repository, information system and or the virtual information are presented in different formats and possess different qualities (sometimes contradictory) (9). In order to exchange information and integrate them in a system, common data elements in between these integrated resources must be defined in order that the possibility of communication and application of needed directions for these data sources will be implemented (10).

With the development of national programs, the need for an integrated information systems and a uniform data collection in order to provide continuous, accurate and timely information throughout the country should be apparent in a manner that the possibility of program planning and evaluation of disparities in providing services must be available and be quickly identified. …