System Interoperability Web Data-exchange Service Bus For Integrating Health Information Systems
Given the need to manage increasing information and knowledge within Kenya‟s health sector, developments in information technology have become more crucial to meet the required demand. Healthcare providers especially government hospitals have made huge investments towards infrastructure improvement and development/purchase of new required health management information systems. Despite the government and private healthcare providers having invested considerably more in the acquisition of various systems, these systems cannot generate expected outcomes if not integrated to achieve common national goals like measuring of health service delivery, morbidity control, etc. A fundamental concern in health management is the integration of health information across distributed, heterogeneous and disparate information systems. Lack of interoperable health systems is one of the major barriers to the use of health information. DHIS 2 is a national health information system (HIS) that was deployed in the country by the government of Kenya in 2010, its function is monitoring health, and evaluating and improving the delivery of health-care services and programs in the country. It is also used for reporting, analysis and dissemination of health data obtained from health facilities and hospitals nationwide. Thus the processed and analysed information from DHIS2 is used for national Health Decision Making by the government health managers, stakeholders and donors for resource allocation. However untimely, incomplete and inaccurate data are the main challenges that have faced the national HIS since the health reporting is paper based dominated and also due to lack of integration between the fragmented health information systems that could submit health data electronically and automatically without using the paper reporting tools. In this work through literature review, the research is based on a need for a software infrastructure that will enable integration of the national DHIS2 with the other existing disparate HISs used in health facilities in order to promote interoperability between the systems. Service-Oriented Computing (SOC) is a new computing paradigm that utilizes services as the basic constructs in development of rapid, low-cost and easy composition of distributed system. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) was adopted as the application framework in designing, building and implementing the service-based solution. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) a layer of middleware through which a set of core (reusable) services are made widely available, this approach was used in development of a web data exchange service bus for integrating the HISs thus facilitating interoperability of the different systems across platforms, enhance communication and data exchange. After the development and evaluation of the Web Data Exchange Bus that enabled an instance of DHIS2 Kenya to interoperate with other Partner-HISs, it is evident that SOA enabled-infrastructure is the most ideal method of integrating systems compared to others methods like point-to-point integrations (through Application Programming Interfaces - APIs) which provides no flexibility of systems changes without impacting on each other. The study demonstrated that Service Bus can be used to integrate new Web Service (WS) based systems with legacy systems that do not have APIs functionalities.
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