MEASURING THE ICT MATURITY LEVEL OF THE NIGERIAN PRIMARY HEALTH SECTOR
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a term which refers to the collecting, storing, editing and passing on of information in various electronical forms. Increasingly rapid advances in ICT can have profound impact in the way health care and its administration is managed and could allow health workers to have access to a world beyond the hospital. It has the potential to transform the nature and process of the entire healthcare structure and provide better healthcare delivery system. Knowing how to use and integrate ICT and healthcare is of Primary importance, however there is still a very poor level of ICT growth in our health care system and these has led to poor healthcare services in our country. In view of the above considerations, it is necessary to measure the ICT maturity level of the Nigerian health sector as this would provide useful insight on how best to successfully incorporate ICT into Primary healthcare system and the knowledge gained would be of great help in terms of planning, budgeting and provides necessary funding priorities. This will yield better and readily accessible primary healthcare system.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM
According to Frienzel (2006), ICT is a term that describes the discipline encompassing computer systems, telecommunication networks and media applications. Information and communication technology is an umbrella term that encompasses all communication devices and applications such as computers, network hardware and software as well as the various services and applications associated with them. Since the 1950s which saw the rise of ICT and related technologies, many innovations and inventions have arisen using ICT as a basis, from mining and exploration to business and commerce, its inventions are endless and have improved performance and productivity in many sectors of the economy. Most countries are at some stage of health sector reform, trying to provide expanded and equitable access to quality services while reducing or at least controlling the rising cost of health care. ICTs have the potential to make a major contribution to improving access and quality of services. The health sector has always relied on technologies.
According to World Health Organization (2004), they form the backbone of the services to prevent, diagnose and treat illness and diseases. Advances in information and communication each technology in the last 20th century have led to ability to more accurately profile individual health risk (Walson, 2003), to understand better basic physiological and pathologic process (Lauman, 2002) and to revolutionize diagnosis through new imaging and scanning technologies such technological development, however, demands and increased responsibility of practitioners and policy makers for the appropriateness of new technologies (Hofmanns 2002). The method people use to communicate with each other also changed significantly, mobile telephony, electronic mail and video conferencing offer new options for sharing perspective. Digital technologies are making for visual images and voice of people more accessible through radio, to video, portable disk players and the internet, that change the opportunities for people are share opinions, experience and knowledge.
Reliable information and effective communication are crucial elements in public health practices. Sadly, in most poor and developing nations, epidemics, ill health, diseases and high mortality rates are still raining trends. There is still low access to basic health services and facilities especially in rural areas and sadly many communities have deficiencies in qualitative and quantitative service delivery. The use of appropriate technologies can increase the quality and the reach of both information and communication. On one hand, the knowledge base is about information, which enables people to improve their own health. On the other hand, social organizations help people to achieve health through the health care systems and public health processes. The ability to impoverish the communities to access services and engage with and demand a health sector that respond to their priorities and needs is importantly influenced by wide information and communication processes meditated by ICTs.
There has been considerable international discussion about the potential of ICTs to make a major impact in improving health and well being of poor and marginalized populations. Combating poverty and encouraging sustainable development and governance, used effectively, ICTs have the enormous potentials as tools to increase information flows and dissemination of evidence- based knowledge and empower citizens. However, despite all its potentials, a problem (challenge) is that ICTs have not been widely used as tools that advance equitable healthcare access. It is therefore of great necessity that we measure the maturity level of ICTs in the health sector, since knowing the maturity level will help to identify its current profile; to define its objectives for integrating ICT in health. The assessment of ICT maturity level will help to set benchmarks and goals for the future as part of their strategic planning and funding priorities.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
This project work investigates and measures the maturity level of primary health sector which has overtime remained controversial and undermined? It helps to determine the e-readiness of the tertiary health sector.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this project can be stated as follows: ·
1. To study the existing ICT maturity models available with a view to identifying and exposing the strengths and weaknesses of ICT in the Primary Health Sector. ·
2. To identify an appropriate ICT maturity model that would be most suitable for measuring the maturity of the primary health sector using Egor Local Government Area as a case study. ·
3. To subsequently use and input the captured ICT maturity model for the Primary Health Sector using Egor Local Government Primary Health Centre as a case study. ·
4. To make appropriate recommendations based on those findings in ICT maturity.
1.4 SCOPE OF STUDY
This research will be using Egor Local Government Area as case study. Dependent and independent variables to be used in this study will be analyzed over a suitable time period.
1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This study was performed using several tools which include: Available literatures that enabled the researcher to have a good foundation on existing work; Interview of some key workers in the health sector so as to yield a more critical analysis of research.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Time was a major constraint since I have had to combine my other academic work with this project work. Access to materials and information that would have been available on desired area has been denied for security reasons as companies felt it could be used to deter their image. Insufficient data is usually acquired therefore the only variables that can be tested are those variables for which secondary data can generate from the research.