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Impact of two interventions on timeliness and data quality of an electronic disease surveillance system in a resource limited setting (Peru): a prospective evaluation

Author(s): Huaman Moises | Araujo-Castillo Roger | Soto Giselle | Neyra Joan | Quispe Jose | Fernandez Miguel | Mundaca Carmen | Blazes David

Journal: BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
ISSN 1472-6947

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 16;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract Background A timely detection of outbreaks through surveillance is needed in order to prevent future pandemics. However, current surveillance systems may not be prepared to accomplish this goal, especially in resource limited settings. As data quality and timeliness are attributes that improve outbreak detection capacity, we assessed the effect of two interventions on such attributes in Alerta, an electronic disease surveillance system in the Peruvian Navy. Methods 40 Alerta reporting units (18 clinics and 22 ships) were included in a 12-week prospective evaluation project. After a short refresher course on the notification process, units were randomly assigned to either a phone, visit or control group. Phone group sites were called three hours before the biweekly reporting deadline if they had not sent their report. Visit group sites received supervision visits on weeks 4 & 8, but no phone calls. The control group sites were not contacted by phone or visited. Timeliness and data quality were assessed by calculating the percentage of reports sent on time and percentage of errors per total number of reports, respectively. Results Timeliness improved in the phone group from 64.6% to 84% in clinics (+19.4 [95% CI, +10.3 to +28.6]; p < 0.001) and from 46.9% to 77.3% on ships (+30.4 [95% CI, +16.9 to +43.8]; p < 0.001). Visit and control groups did not show significant changes in timeliness. Error rates decreased in the visit group from 7.1% to 2% in clinics (-5.1 [95% CI, -8.7 to -1.4]; p = 0.007), but only from 7.3% to 6.7% on ships (-0.6 [95% CI, -2.4 to +1.1]; p = 0.445). Phone and control groups did not show significant improvement in data quality. Conclusion Regular phone reminders significantly improved timeliness of reports in clinics and ships, whereas supervision visits led to improved data quality only among clinics. Further investigations are needed to establish the cost-effectiveness and optimal use of each of these strategies.
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