Designing eMIS Apps with Users

Designing eMIS Apps with Users

Many digital development projects fail to create impact among the users or achieve their results. Principles of digital development suggests that nine principles should be followed to ensure the success of digital interventions. The first principle of Digital Development underlines that digital systems should be appropriate for users, be relevant to the context and be informed by user needs. Including all user groups in planning, development, implementation and assessment is mandatory. Design solutions that learn from and enhance existing workflows and plan for organizational adaptation. Developing projects in an incremental and iterative manner is required should ensure success and adoption of digital tools.

The Electronic Management Information System or eMIS is a comprehensive and organization-wide digital intervention for the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh. The eMIS started its journey in 2015 through a pilot implementation in Basail and Madhabpur upazilas of Tangail and Habiganj districts respectively. Pilot proved worthy of scaling up, which started in 2018. The scale up gathered pace and reached 36 out of 64 districts by the end of 2020 in a span of 6 years and it is expected that eMIS would be covered in all districts of Bangladesh gradually. The eMIS aimed to automate the business processes of the community level workers, their supervisor though mobile applications or mHealth apps. Tools were developed for managers and decision makers to reach enterprise level.

Starting from 2015, the eMIS programmers and implementation team remained engaged with field workers at community levels, their supervisors and managers in the sub-district and district level. The participation of users in design and implementation have enriched the apps and web-based application and let to wide adoption.

We tried to learn how the users perceived the participation of the programmers and implementation team in design and development of digital tools. We interviewed some users and reproduce some of their observations in the following sections.

Communication with the programmers and implementation team

Ms. Ivy Yasmin, Upazila Family Planning Officer, Tangail Sadar highlighted the usefulness and impact of communication with the developers.

We had been in continuous dialogue with the implementation team and the programmers. We held meetings, assessed the tools, discussed with staff during field visits and communicated our observations. We conduct monthly meetings at upazila level which the programmers and implementing team attend to discuss any important points or get feedback. Fortnightly meetings are held at union level with the field workers. They were present in some of those meetings. We frequently discussed over phone as well. We advised on different aspects of the app and wanted change in the app is some cases, which were fulfilled. It remained a continuous process and led to refinement of the tools.

How the apps were developed and what how they interacted with the developers

The implementation team and the software programmers were engaged with us from the very beginning. They examined the paper registers, learned about our views. They had good grasp of the scope of our work and the manner we conduct our business in the field. They went into great details and elicited our opinions on different issues. They analyzed the paper register and all relevant documents before starting the digitization process. The identified field realities with excellent understanding of our systems and processes. We could easily raise any issues as we had close interactions with the programmers and the implementation team. The team responded immediate if possible and took long when a new version was required.

Md. Imran Khan, Family Planning Inspector, Basail, Tangail recounted how the apps were developed and what were the roles of the users during the development process.

The usability of tools that replaced their paper registers

Kamal Mia, FPI, Habiganj Sadar, Habiganj enumerated the how the digital tools are changing the way they work.

We feel very comfortable in using the app on our tablets. Previously, we would go through the paper register page by page to search for a client. Now we can find the clients easily in the app. The app is versatile. It guides us on provision of services, like family planning method selection, counselling etc. App has improved a lot over the years. We started with population registration. We added nutrition. We use app for updating records of our individual clients as well as socio economic status of a household. We now update records of pregnant women and follow them up till delivery. We also track birth and death events in our catchment areas.


The eMIS story is that of engagement with the users whether in the rural areas or at different levels in the official hierarchies.  Adequate consultation and intimate engagement with the users made it was possible to realize the need of the users and tweak of modify tools that give satisfaction to the users.

By |2021-01-31T08:00:28-06:00 Published on January 31, 2021| Updated on January 31, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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