By Wayan Vota on November 20, 2019 | ICTworks
The adoption of digital health in Ghana has been slower than expected, compared with the fast adoption of ICT in other important areas of business and social life. Digital health is still at the neophyte stage, with most hospitals only partially electronic.
Join Your Digital Health Peers at 2019 Global Digital Health Forum
- Lack of coordinated information makes the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) difficult. The NHIS was introduced by the government in 2003 to improve access to healthcare for poor citizens.
- The use of paper folders for health records and the requirement that patients locate their folders at the records office before they are attended to. Patients spend a considerable amount of time on this exercise and there are several instances were emergency patients have died as a result of this practice.
In 2010 the MoH launched an eHealth strategy to chart a clear path for digital health adoption in the country. The report outlined four key strategies that will ensure the full implementation of digital health:
- Streamlining the regulatory framework for health data and information management;
- Building sector capacity for wider application of eHealth solutions in the health sector;
- Increasing access and bridging equity gap in the health sector through the use of ICT;
- Building a paperless records and reporting system.
These strategies will only work if digital health is fully embraced and used by health care providers and professionals. Therefore the academic research paper, “Factors influencing adoption of eHealth technologies in Ghana,” by Agyenna Kesse-Tachi, Alexander Ekow Asmah, and Ebenezer Agbozo is critical to understanding the national strategy and corresponding health ecosystem interventions.
The study population was 1,640 health professionals and managers in the Greater Accra Region who are users and potential users of digital health at 82 public and private institutions, including Community Health Improvement Services (CHIPS); Health clinics; Maternity homes; Hospitals; Teaching and university hospitals; Psychiatric hospitals.
Five Key Drivers of Digital Health Adoption in Ghana
The study authors found the following five factors had the greatest influence on digital health adoption in Ghana’s health facilities:
- Being private;
- Having higher education;
- Being a tertiary practice institution;
- Being young;
- Being female.
The study found that working at a private institution was the greatest factor in digital health adoption. The authors theorize that since private health institutions generate all their income from patients, they have the incentive to institute digital health solutions to be more efficient and have a shorter turnaround time in order to be more profitable.
The study found that the relatively high resource availability at tertiary practice or referral institutions, such as Korle-Bu, the Ridge Hospital, Nyaho Clinic, and similar institutions, as a result of their referral or specialised status, influences their decision to adopt digital health solutions in their operations.
Survey analysis also indicate that individual factors, such as being female, being young, having a higher education and having spent more years in the professional role were statistically significant in influencing the adoption of digital health solutions by health professionals or managers. These suggest that the characteristics of the health practitioners, not just their institution’s status, are pertinent to the adoption of digital health in various health services.