HEALTHCARE INSTITUTION IN NIGERIA: THE NEED FOR INTEGRATION OF MHEALTH PLATFORM IN PATIENT CARE

In the past few years, Digital health product has seen adoption by entrepreneurs, developers, and consumers. The adoption of e-health products has also been on the uptrend in developing countries like Nigeria and other African countries, same is the number of startup tapping into this field. While most developed countries have seen a huge adoption as seen with the likes of Babylon Health, Ada, Woebot e.t.c., and new innovations implemented on the legacy EHR solutions used by various healthcare institutions. Adoption in Nigeria has not received a welcoming interest from Healthcare institutions. This is due to various factors, which I grouped into poor funding and lack of clinical champions.

Poor Funding: This is the major factor limiting the adoption of E-health solution, an example is the current use of the paper document for record-keeping, a method which is not only outdated and volatile but has also limit innovation in areas like informatics and artificial intelligence where patients’ data can be used to make informed decision through Decision Support Systems.

Funding also plays a role in other factors like Technology infrastructure, Physician Digital Health Education and Supporting Policies to aid adoption.

Lack of Clinical Champions: Clinical champions are individual within an organization who has a responsibility to advocate for change, motivate others, and use their position and expert knowledge to facilitate the adoption of a particular innovation. While few Hospitals have the technology, they lack the expertise required to utilize these technologies. Clinical Champions can help bridge this gap by rallying clinicians to adopt digital technologies, via training and orientation on the significance of this technology towards improving healthcare delivery and making their work easy. The absence of Clinical champions makes digitization appear like a dreadful opposition to clinicians (with many worrying it will displace them from their job) and they are most often ready to shut down any such project.

The factors above, however, do not hinder investment and development of digital health products, mostly in the area of consumer products, as seen with the likes of Omomi, Mobidoc, Ubenwa, and Doctorcare247. While these products are helping consumer manage their health better, passive involvement of clinicians seems to have limited the impact in terms of improving healthcare delivery. In the process of usage of these platforms, large amount of data are collected, which can be explored with modern analytic techniques. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence has revealed data as a vital factor in providing quality healthcare as it helps us identify important patient information that would have been unnoticed and make better diagnostic and treatment decisions. The implication of this is that ignoring this information can lead to misdiagnosis or late diagnosis.

While the majority of healthcare institutions are yet to adopt technology for various clinical operations, there is a need to consider these mHealth products when managing patients in healthcare institutions. Healthcare institutions need to validate the quality of results from these platforms and consider it in patient diagnosis and treatment.

Digitization of Nigeria healthcare system might not be feasible at the moment, But Digital health products currently developed can be helpful in Medical diagnosis and treatment.

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