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Nigeria, Others To See 80% e-Health Uptake 2017?

The need for a mobile healthcare workforce will be one of the key drivers of mobile technology investments in the region but there are big questions about the reality of IDC’s forecasts.

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• ICTs contribute to eliminate health inequalities and achieve greater community coordination.
• Corporate smart devices deployed by over one-third of MEA healthcare organizations
• Another 50% planning to adopt them by 2017

International Data Corporation (IDC) said last year that Nigeria and other Middle East and African (MEA) countries will see mobile or e-Health deployment in well over 80 per cent of the regions healthcare organizations by 2017. But facts on ground in Nigerian seem the reverse would be the case.

A report published from IDC Health Insights shows that enterprise mobility will have penetrated more than 80 per cent of MEA healthcare organizations in two years time.
eHealth is the use of information technology and communication for public health. It is referred to electronic medical records which are replacing paper records; telehealth, including distance medicine; the use of mobile devices; especially in disease prevention, e-learning for distance learning, and interoperability between different technologies and software applications.
In Nigeria however, challenges identified include making the strategy a state policy; managing changes and communicating them to professionals, administrators, and patients; working out the complexities of structures and the incorporation of technologies; and the problems of interoperability through definition of common standards.
The region’s healthcare market is seeing the widespread deployment of mobile technologies, with the short term outlook for the implementation of mobility within this space looking particularly strong.
According to the report, which is based on IDC’s annual survey of the region’s CIO community, corporate smart devices have already been deployed by over one-third of MEA healthcare organizations, with another 50 per cent planning to adopt them by 2017.
Mobilizing enterprise applications, adopting mobile device management (MDM) solutions, and developing policies for enabling enterprise mobility are the top priorities of the IT executives that are planning to embrace mobility.
IT security remains the greatest concern for healthcare CIOs, with the surveyed IT leaders identifying insider threats and staff-related issues as their most critical security challenges.
These concerns are being further aggravated by insufficient budgets, the lack of mature security strategies, and a shortage of skilled IT security personnel.
“The need for a mobile healthcare workforce will be one of the key drivers of mobile technology investments in MEA over the coming years,” said Nino Giguashvili, lead research analyst for CEMA at IDC Health Insights.
“In line with the rapidly-rising importance of enterprise mobility within the MEA healthcare industry, mobile security will dominate investments in IT security solutions. Investments in MDM solutions will see particularly strong growth.”
In the face of daunting health challenges experienced across the nation, eHealth experts and reports say Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can help solve health problems.
In a world with over 3 billion Internet users, 6.1 million cell phones, and 300,000 text messages sent every second, the worlds of medicine and technology cannot walk on isolated pathways, according to World Health Organisation. The Facebook social network has some one billion users, half of whom use the network every day. Society, continuous technological changes, and the need to lower costs put pressure on governments to move forward on the health benefits of ICT.
Mobile technology can increase access to healthcare and ICTs contribute to “eliminate health inequalities and achieve greater community coordination.”
According to former minister of health, Eyitayo Lambo, the implementation of eHealth in Nigeria is largely unco-ordinated, as existing pilots were rarely scaled-up. While decrying the absence of an inclusive national eHealth strategy, Lambo enumerates challenges which include lack of policy and an eHealth legislative framework, power challenges, lack of political will and absence of robust ICT infrastructure, among others.
According to Lambo, “eHealth would provide efficient and cost effective healthcare services for people in remote areas, through early diagnostics, logistics and supplies, as well as help individuals to make informed decisions about their health. Beneficiaries of eHealth include patients, healthcare professionals and providers, government bodies, policymakers, healthcare educators and students.”
President, International Conference on Telemedicine and eHealth, Mr. Olajide Adebola, “A comprehensive situational analysis of the implementation of telemedicine and eHealth initiatives should be undertaken to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current efforts. The eHealth strategy should address local needs and should involve locally driven solutions.
Health systems have a very large quantity of data that can be linked through computers. “There are also systems that they make it possible to calculate the value of health interventions and tell people what is achieved for money invested,” he noted. Through the use of such data, he said, public policies can improve health. For this to happen, it is necessary, among other actions, to plan investments and build connections between systems.

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IT NEWS NIGERIA gathered that it is necessary to reduce disparities in access to technology so that we can speak to each other.
Access from anywhere in the world to the medical records of a patient who requires care, sharing information between remote health providers in cases of possible outbreaks, and public policies that provide support for digital research will be very important in the coming years, he observed.
It is important for the nation to approve a strategy for eHealth and a strategy for Knowledge Management and Communication. The eHealth strategy must sets out four priorities including the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of effective public policies; the use of tools and methodologies based on technologies; horizontal collaboration between regions for the development of a digital eHealth agenda for the geopolitical region, and the management of knowledge and digital literacy.
One of the pillars for modernizing the health sector is to have technology tools that support the clinical and administrative processes, within the framework of an eHealth strategy, to meet the goals of providing more and better health.

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