ICT and Healthcare in Ghana by Mathew Adjei Darko (PG 3056209)
Health is a key sector for development and plays a crucial role in poverty eradication.
One of the key developments in the health sector in the last 25 years is the incursion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This is clearly captured in a speech of Mr. Kofi Annan speaking at the World Summit of Information Society: ???A technological revolution is transforming society in a profound way. If harnessed and directed properly, ICT have the potential to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life.???
Therefore a concerted and guided use of ICT in the health sector is crucial for a more cost-effective and a better performing sector which avoids duplicating activities and provides quality service.
ICT in healthcare, in recent years has been widely used to help doctors, nurses and other practitioners to better achieve better care to patients across Ghana??™s healthcare landscape, in both administrative and medical field. Numerous examples exist to prove the importance of using ICT to better the lot of patients, providers, payers and other paramedics. Some of the examples include Electronic Medical Records Exchange which is allowing medical records between hospitals and polyclinics to facilitate and provide efficient healthcare to the public. Another example is the implementation of HealthCare Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS aims to improve the ability to collect, store, analyse accurate healthcare data, increase data accuracy and effectiveness of intervention, increase accountability and improve tracking of patient health trends and ease of record retrieval. Accurate and timely data helps to plan and prepare health policies.
Healthcare Infrastructure (a brief summary)
In Ghana, the government manages the public healthcare system through the Ministry of Health (MOH). It s mission is to ensure good and affordable basic services to all Ghanaians. It is supported by a host of private clinics and hospitals. The use of ICT is not wide spread and where ICT has been implemented they are fragmented with little connectivity. There is also a knowledge gap for both the stakeholders and the patient who are to be served by the ICT implementation. Investment in ICT is looked upon with mistrust and caution since there is no real business case for ICT investment in a Medical practice.
The Problem Identification or The Challenges
In spite of all these perceived benefits and opportunities offered by ICT, there are numerous challenges to overcome before information and communication technology (ICT) can achieve its full potential in process-oriented health-care organizations. It must be recognised that e-health also brings costs (of technology, of implementation, of staff time, of training, etc.), and that there may be downsides (such as failure, or poorer security and privacy for patient data). One of these challenges is designing systems that meet users needs, while reflecting a continuously changing organizational environment. Another challenge is to develop ICT that supports both the internal and the external stakeholders demands. Another challenge is how to position Ghana to take advantage of ICT opportunities and its role in competitiveness and organizational survival in the new healthcare environment vis a vis Health Tourism. (This is just to mention few of the challenges).
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The objective of this paper in relation to the challenges identified above is>
1. To examine how ICT impact on organizational performance in the healthcare
2. To explore the opportunities offered by ICT in the healthcare in Ghana
3. To find out what are the causes of ICT implementation failure and success in the health sector
4. To assess the financial benefits in use of ICT in a Medical practice
5. To uncover how ICT can help a medical facility to effect innovative and strategic changes in the organisation
5 Research Questions related to the Use of ICT in Healthcare in Ghana.
1. How does the use of ICT impact on the Organizational Performance of Public Healthcare institutions
2. What are the opportunities and challenges in the implementation of ICT in the health sector from the perspective of a Clinical/Hospital Administrator
3. What are the determinants of ICT implementation failure or success
4. Is it worth in investing in ICT in a private medical practice (Making a business case for ICT investment)
5. How does ICT influence Medical education and practice in this new internet environment