Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions About the iHRIS Software
What is iHRIS?
iHRIS is open source health information software that supplies health-sector leaders with information to track, manage, and plan the health workforce. It is designed for use by ministries of health, professional health councils, and similar organizations in low-resource countries. Using iHRIS, managers and other decision makers can identify health workforce issues and plan interventions. The iHRIS software is made available under the GPL V3 license and is free to download, use, and modify. iHRIS was originally developed by the USAID-funded and IntraHealth International-led global Capacity Project. CapacityPlus (the global follow-on project), Capacity Project Associate Awards, and other IntraHealth-led projects continue to develop, customize, and support the software.
What are the benefits of iHRIS? Why is it needed?
Many countries are experiencing a critical shortage of health workers and are struggling to meet the health-care needs of their people. To address these challenges, governments need current, accurate data on the available health workforce. Unfortunately, many low-resource countries lack health workforce data or store information in paper-based filing systems, which are difficult to access and analyze. A human resources information system (HRIS) enables countries to collect, maintain, and analyze data about the entire health workforce, including professionals employed in the health sector, those who are qualified but not employed, and those who are in training. While several proprietary HRIS products are available, most incur high costs for purchasing and customizing the software.
iHRIS is HRIS software specifically designed for use in low-resource settings. Because it is developed by projects focused on strengthening the global health workforce, the software addresses many of the needs and HR processes found in large national health-care systems. Using iHRIS, decision makers can understand the current health workforce situation and create informed, effective plans to ensure a steady supply of trained health professionals, deploy human resources in the correct positions and locations to meet health-care needs, and retain health worker skills and experience in the country.
Where is iHRIS being used?
Currently, 15 countries are using iHRIS with 4 more expected to be using it by the end of 2013. For more, see the iHRIS Countries page on our website.
What iHRIS applications are available?
iHRIS is built on a flexible framework that allows for adaptation to a wide variety of uses. Applications built on this framework include:
- iHRIS Manage supports Ministry of Health and other service delivery organizations to track, manage, deploy, and map their health workforces.
- iHRIS Qualify enables professional councils and associations to maintain a database of registered and licensed health professionals to support increased quality of care.
- iHRIS Plan is a predictive modeling tool used to project the likely changes in the health workforce under different scenarios and compare them with projected needs.
- iHRIS Retain is a cloud-based tool developed in collaboration with WHO to help countries and plan and cost retention interventions.
- iHRIS Train is a new application being developed by in-country teams to track and manage health worker training activities at the national level.
iHRIS applications are designed to work together but may also be deployed independently or integrated with other health information systems. All of these applications may be accessed through our www.ihris.org website, with the exception of iHRIS Train. We hope to make iHRIS Train generally available by the end of 2013.
What is open source? Why is iHRIS open source?
Open source is a software development and licensing model that makes the source code freely available to everyone who wants to use it. Open source software is distributed under a license that allows anyone to study, copy, and modify the source code and redistribute it in modified or unmodified form, without restriction. By adopting an open source software solution, countries can save licensing costs and avoid being "locked in" to a product that may not fit their changing needs.
We believe that a customizable, open source HRIS is more likely to meet a country's specific needs than an off-the-shelf software package. Once we develop and release iHRIS software products, we make them available under an open source license, which means that anyone can download them for free. Therefore, we can distribute our products at minimal cost, and users can continue to use, improve, and update their iHRIS software without paying onerous licensing or upgrade fees. Employing iHRIS provides access to a global iHRIS developer community, which supports the iHRIS software, answers questions, fixes bugs, and develops new features and modules. Since iHRIS products are easy to customize and expand, additional development can quickly respond to newly discovered needs. The result is a completely tailored but still low-cost system that can grow and change over time.
What am I giving up by not using one of the large, mainstream HR management software packages?
HR management is an issue for all corporate and government organizations, and many well-regarded companies have developed software solutions to address this need. Some of the best known are SAS, SAP, and PeopleSoft. While these systems have a great deal to offer, barriers to entry are high, requiring:
- a strong, well-established technology infrastructure;
- dedicated staff trained on highly specialized, proprietary software systems;
- high costs for software purchase and customization; and
- high costs for hardware requirements.
Implementing a system of this magnitude and complexity is overwhelming for budgets, staff, and available technology resources. Alternatively, a customized open source solution addresses common barriers to entry while laying the groundwork for future system growth. Open source applications are free, network-friendly, and widely considered to be the most secure. Software costs are nonexistent, and the software itself can be modified. The community of programmers who know open source technologies is already large and growing. Finally, you are not locked in to this system; all data can be easily exported if you choose to move to a different system in the future.
What is the difference between an HRIS and an HMIS?
A human resources information system (HRIS) is an information management tool designed specifically for managing human resources in the health sector. A health management information system (HMIS), also called a health information system (HIS), is an aggregate of all information systems within the health sector. HRIS is a sub-system that contributes to the HMIS, like other sub-systems such as electronic health records (EHR) systems or logistics management information systems (LMIS).
What is the difference between DHIS and iHRIS?
DHIS is an information management tool designed specifically for aggregating patient records, while iHRIS is designed to manage health worker information. These two systems use common standards and can share data with one another.
What is the difference between OpenMRS and iHRIS?
OpenMRS is an information system designed specifically for health facility management, while iHRIS is designed to manage health worker information at the facility, district, and/or national level. These two systems use common standards and can share data with one another.
What features are in development?
Downloading and Installing iHRIS
What are the software requirements for iHRIS?
iHRIS is built on the LAMP architecture, which refers to a set of open source software programs commonly used together to run dynamic web-based applications:
- Linux, the operating system;
- Apache, the web server;
- MySQL, the database management system; and
- PHP, the scripting language.
Note that we no longer support iHRIS on Windows.
How do I download iHRIS?
To download iHRIS, visit our Download page on the www.ihris.org website. You can choose to download the entire iHRIS software package or just the individual application that you need. Follow the Installation Instructions to extract and install the files after they have downloaded.
Is an Internet connection required?
Even though iHRIS uses a web-based application, it does not require an Internet connection. It can be deployed on a single computer, a local area network (LAN) that is limited to one office, or a wide area network (WAN) that may link several offices or districts together. This increases security because the system is never accessible to the outside world.
How can I get the iHRIS source code?
The iHRIS software source code is hosted on Launchpad. Current releases, code in development, and localized versions of the iHRIS software suite are all available.
See the tutorial Changing the Banner and Logo to Your Organization for instructions on how to change the banner, logo, and other branding information in your iHRIS site to represent your organization.
Click on Configure System-->Administer Database. There is a list of all the fields in the drop-down menus. Click on the one you want to populate. Click on Add New. Enter the required fields. Click on Confirm and save.
The Form Lists describe all the forms and fields used in iHRIS Manage and Qualify, as well as how they are related to one another. We also provide graphical maps of this information suitable for printing.
How can I create a data form map for my custom iHRIS site?
When you create a custom iHRIS site, you may be adding new forms and fields, in which case, the data maps for iHRIS Manage and Qualify will no longer be accurate. You will want to generate your own form map. See the tutorial Create a Data Form Map For My Custom Site for instructions.
How is security of information enforced in the iHRIS software?
The security of iHRIS is ensured through two means:
- Password-protected logins: No one can access the system without having a username and password that is issued by a System Administrator and verified by the system every time a connection is made.
- Role-based access: When a person is issued a system login, they are also assigned a role, such as HR manager or data entrant. When someone logs in to the system, the system verifies his/her role. Based on the role assigned, there are limits to the actions that can be performed and the data that can be accessed. Role-based access prevents non-authorized staff from viewing sensitive data such as salaries, performance issues, and identification numbers.
How can I tell who accessed the system and what they did?
iHRIS keeps a log of all operations, which are accessible by the system administrator.
How can I restrict users by their facility or geographical location?
Sometimes instead of restricting users by action (or role), you may want to restrict by record-level data, specifically by the facility or geographical location where the person works. See the tutorial Configuring Restricted Access by Facility or Geography for instructions on how to do this.
For more, see our Security page.
What languages is iHRIS available in?
iHRIS has been translated into more than 14 languages by volunteers, including Dutch, English, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Sinhalese, Spanish, Swahili, and Tagalog. For more information, see the translations page for the iHRIS software on Launchpad, our hosting site.
How can I contribute translations?
Our core iHRIS developers identify strings of English text that need to be translated. Volunteers can go to one of the sites below and see a list of strings that need to be translated, then submit their translations.
To get started, go to one of the following sites:
- Our hosting site, Launchpad: First, set up an account-–it’s free and quick. Then, click the Translations tab. Next, select the languages you are proficient in by clicking the Select Languages link on the right side. Click any project name in the list, such as iHRIS Manage, and then select the language. You will see a list of strings that need translation. Enter your translation and then check the box beside “Someone should review this translation.”
- Translatewiki, a platform that brings together a dedicated community of translators with free and open source software projects. To join, click Start Translating. You will be guided through the process of becoming a Translatewiki translator. Once iHRIS content has been translated, Translatewiki staff integrate the changes into the iHRIS source code on Launchpad.
As iHRIS is translated into multiple languages, more organizations in more countries will be able to implement and use the software. When translation into a new language reaches 70-80% completion, it will automatically be included in the next release of the iHRIS software as a language option.
For more information on this process, see the Translations page.
Is documentation available in languages other than English?
Currently, the user's manuals are available in French. The iHRIS Administrator Level 1 e-learning course is also available in French. We are in the process of translating the technical documentation on this wiki into French.
Contacting the iHRIS Development Team
How do I report a bug or request a new feature?
If you find a bug in iHRIS, please report it. We use Launchpad, the site that hosts the iHRIS source code, to also track the status of all bug reports. You can also use the same process to request a new feature. You will need to create a Launchpad account as a first step–it’s free and simple. See Report a Bug for instructions.
My question isn't answered here. How do I ask a question?
If your question is not answered in the FAQ, the quickest way to get an answer is to post your question on the iHRIS Global Community Google group. You may also contact us directly with any questions you may have.
The iHRIS source code is hosted on Launchpad. If you have an account there, you may ask a question or search for previously answered questions in the Questions section for the iHRIS Suite on Launchpad. Registering a Launchpad account is free and simple.