Doctors says health care delivery depends on information
Dr. Frank Nyonator, the acting Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has said the provision of quality healthcare depends on the availability and efficient application of information at the appropriate time.“Our ability to provide quality healthcare service delivery depends on quality information available at the right time in the right place to the right person”, he said.
Dr. Nyonator was speaking at the opening of the 10th annual general conference of the Medical Superintendents’ Group (MSG) Ghana, under the theme: “Quality hospital information management system; a tool for improved health care delivery” on Wednesday in Sunyani.
He said health facilities were experiencing major challenges in dealing with the ever-growing demands and changes in insurance claims processing and management.
“Quality information is essential for organizational development and should never be taken for granted or perceived as a luxury”, he emphasized.
Dr. Nyonator said though the challenge to satisfy the need for quality information seemed unending whilst the task for managers to achieve that also appeared time-consuming, that difficulty stemmed from the health facilities “heavy reliance on paper-based systems.”
He said the heavy reliance on paper-based system created “a chain of errors in the record, classification, translation, timeliness and accuracy of reports”.
He added technology was also constantly changing and the challenge now lay in adapting more quickly to and embracing the available technology to better position the medical superintendents to deal with emerging diseases.
Dr. Nyonator said Medical Superintendents daily challenge of managing volumes of information generated was compounded by several inadequacies and weaknesses in human resource and institutional capacity for information management.
He suggested the need for hospital managers to collaborate with their staff to be able to undertake value-added activities whilst taking steps to improve their individual performances to reduce waste in their time resources.
Dr. Nyonator said the GHS had recognized that the application and use of ICT in health (e-health) presented the country with new opportunities for accelerating progress in managing the health management information systems.
The situation however, required a fundamental shift in the way information “is recorded, accessed, assessed and shared within and across hospitals”, he said.
The acting Director-General conceded the e-health was not the panacea to all problems of the heath sector; solutions were being found to problems that hitherto appeared unsolvable because of ICT.
He cited poor communication had often been implicated in many instances of inefficiencies in the health sector, saying that the many manifestations of poor quality care and systems breakdown in patient management could be linked directly or indirectly to the lack of communication.
Dr. Nyonator said the Ministry of Health had developed an e-Health Strategy that sought to provide guidance for the application of ICT in the country’s health sector.
He added the GHS had also acknowledged the need to provide solutions to inconsistencies and inadequacies in service delivery using ICT tools.
Dr. Nyonator mentioned among other solutions the District Health Planning Analysis and Reporting Tool (DiPART) that “works to align districts’ budgets to managing the major disease burdens of the district”.
He said teleconferencing equipment were also being installed in all 10 Regional Health Directorates (RHDs) to ensure regular and continuous communication between all RHDs and the GHS headquarters.
Dr. Paul Kwaw Ntodi, President of MSG Ghana, expressed worry that quality and reliable data in both clinical and public healthcare remained “a serious challenge for Healthcare Managers”.
He said most facilities had poorly developed Hospital Management Information Systems because information for important hospital management decisions, planning and budgeting “is inadequate and unreliable”.
He said a large number of health facilities continued to spend significant amounts of their Internally Generated Fund (IGF) on paying the wages of critical staff like ICT personnel, accounts officers and security staff.
Dr. Ntodi said IGF was also used to buy key equipment and provision of infrastructure, explaining that increased indirect cost.
He therefore appealed to the MoH to absorb that indirect cost to help release funds for direct inputs for improved service delivery. GNA