Successful Public Health Information System Database Integration Projects: A Qualitative Study

Matthew Wesley Roberts



To explore the most important public health information system database integration project success factors, whether technological, organizational, project-specific, or external in nature.


This study involved a cross-case design.  Cases were identified through literal replication logic and screened through a survey and literature review.  Study participants were interviewed through hour-long sessions with a semi-structured guide.  Survey responses, interview transcripts and available documents were coded and analyzed deductively, with matrices developed to illustrate relationships. 


Leadership among the project’s participants is the most important integration project success factor.  Executive sponsors champion the initiative.  Informaticians facilitate communication and system requirement collection.  Program directors contribute substantive energy to the project and remove obstacles.  Other factors substantially contribute to project success.  Strong Financial Management and Support promotes project initiation.  Technological aspects impact the functionality of the final product.  Utilizing formal project management techniques, particularly the Agile software development methodology, contributes to successful project resolution by ensuring daily operational effectiveness.


The principal finding illustrates project leadership transcending the role of the executive sponsor.  Other participants, notably informaticians and program directors, substantially contribute to the project’s success.  Additionally, the Agile software development methodology is emerging as a successful approach to project management for these and related projects. 


Investing in the leadership and project management skills of database integration project participants could improve the success of future projects.  State health department staff considering these projects should carefully select project participants and train them accordingly.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *