District decision-making for health in low-income settings: a qualitative study in Uttar Pradesh, India, on engaging the private health sector in sharing health-related data

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Abstract

Health information systems are an important planning and monitoring tool for public health services, but may lack information from the private health sector. In this fourth article in a series on district decision-making for health, we assessed the extent of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH)-related data sharing between the private and public sectors in two districts of Uttar Pradesh, India; analysed barriers to data sharing; and identified key inputs required for data sharing. Between March 2013 and August 2014, we conducted 74 key informant interviews at national, state and district levels. Respondents were stakeholders from national, state and district health departments, professional associations, non-governmental programmes and private commercial health facilities with 3–200 beds. Qualitative data were analysed using a framework based on a priori and emerging themes. Private facilities registered for ultrasounds and abortions submitted standardized records on these services, which is compulsory under Indian laws. Data sharing for other services was weak, but most facilities maintained basic records related to institutional deliveries and newborns. Public health facilities in blocks collected these data from a few private facilities using different methods. The major barriers to data sharing included the public sector’s non-standardized data collection and utilization systems for MNCH and lack of communication and follow up with private facilities. Private facilities feared information disclosure and the additional burden of reporting, but were willing to share data if asked officially, provided the process was simple and they were assured of confidentiality. Unregistered facilities, managed by providers without a biomedical qualification, also conducted institutional deliveries, but were outside any reporting loops. Our findings suggest that even without legislation, the public sector could set up an effective MNCH data sharing strategy with private registered facilities by developing a standardized and simple system with consistent communication and follow up.

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