Africa Healthcare: Systems Interoperability problem? Not our problem
By Ayo Bamgboye:
Africa is a poor continent, this is well known. However we are lucky not to have “rich “ continents problems when it comes to the development of our healthcare through the use of technology. Our problem is the lack of vision of our leaders or private companies to invest boldly in African healthcare.
What does Interoperability means in terms of healthcare systems? It is defined as “the ability of a computer system to run application programs from different vendors and to interact with other computers across local or wide-area networks regardless of their physical architecture and operating systems”. In a simpler way, it means look before you jump. If you want to buy a new system or hardware, you must ensure that what you are going to buy will integrate or function seamlessly with your current infrastructure.
In most developed countries, the interoperability problems are major hindrances to having regional or national healthcare system. In some cases, big hospital face the dilemma of either holding to their current systems or get new ones that will work with modern systems. Some health thinkers are even thinking of a new model of buying modules that can be seamlessly integrated. For a clear picture of this model, just think of the 80s when you buy stereo set, a twin cassette deck from Sony, amplifier from JVC and a pair of speakers from Sanyo. All combined, produced quality music, so why cannot we do the same in healthcare. This is not the focus here. The focus is about the great opportunities provided by emerging technologies like mHealth, eHealth Telemedicine, etc. that can be absorbed into Africa healthcare institutions with less thought about how to integrate but how do we finance their procurement or implementation.
Africa has a lot of man power resources living in Africa and dotted all over the globe. Emerging technologies used in healthcare are providing a golden opportunity for us to lead or be on par with other developed nations in determining the future. Rwanda, a war ravage country about a decade ago, is now model for developed countries on how could use technologies in managing healthcare. They have an established national insurance system that the USA or UK can only envy. What we need as Africans is a combined effort to design and marshal out how the continent can benefit from the use of emerging technologies to manage our healthcare. We should come up with a sort of blueprint which investors, charitable organisations or health foundations can subscribe into when thinking or planning, to support or improve Africa healthcare using modern technologies.
It has to be acknowledged that there are organisations that are trying to do these things. The problem it’s the rate at which these sort of organisation are proliferating. There should be a combined effort to bring our resources together for a common goal. There should be an overarching body to map out blueprint for developments in the different sphere of Africa healthcare. This is not a panacea for success but a remedy against failure.