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Creating a data management system to help the Delhi government respond to COVID-19

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Number of people impacted

key takeaways

Decision-maker’s challenge

Sometimes, data truly is a matter of life and death.

When COVID-19 began to affect India, the need for timely information about cases was growing more intense every day. At the start, the Delhi Government managed COVID-19 patient data through a spreadsheet-based system that was designed when the city had few cases. As infection rates rose rapidly, this system couldn’t keep up with the inflow, and government decision makers were finding it hard to monitor COVID-19 health outcomes in Delhi. The government urgently needed a data management system to manage healthcare services for people infected with COVID-19.

Impact opportunity

A strong and secure data system could precisely capture the ever-changing reality of COVID-19 transmission among the over 20 million people in Delhi. Patterns generated from real-time data could then inform urgently needed decisions to direct people to the right care facility and to prevent the spread of the disease. This data was also needed to inform COVID-19 testing and tracing strategies and policies to coordinate healthcare resources. To address this need, an embedded IDinsight team worked with the Delhi Government from early May 2020 to establish and maintain an end-to-end patient and facility management system, tailored to the realities of COVID-19. 

Our approach

In partnership with Dimagi, a local social enterprise specializing in technology solutions, we designed an integrated data portal to manage data on COVID-19 patients and hospital occupancy in Delhi. We worked around-the-clock with all levels of government to ensure that the portal reflected the realities on the ground while generating action-oriented information for the city’s leaders. Using this portal, we created daily customized reports for the city’s top leadership to inform their operational and policy decisions. We also set up multiple dashboards to provide real-time snapshots of the status of COVID-19’s transmission in the city. The weekly analytical bulletin that we created offered in-depth analysis of data on testing, patient outcomes, and hospital bed availability in the city. 

With our support, the portal has now been transitioned to India’s National Informatics Centre (NIC) and is being maintained by civil servants. 

The results

The data management portal has helped the Delhi government manage the COVID-19 crisis in the city:

  • The portal reduced slippage in patient management and made it easier for the government to monitor the status of each and every COVID-19 patient in Delhi. 
  • The portal enabled government policies to increase the percentage of patients who are reached by district officials for contact tracing. 
  • The portal gave rise to a dashboard that displays the availability of hospital beds to the public, which has reduced citizens’ anxiety about insufficient hospital capacity. 
  • The portal has offered officials easily accessible data, eliminating the need to pull data from different sources.
  • The portal served as a template for the government to build its own data system through the NIC and generate a sustainable, long-term solution to COVD-19 data management.