Promoting ICT as a Tool for Development



Homepage
Projects Reports

News
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ICT for Public Health Services in Ghana

29/6/ 2015

Mr. Seth Afagbedzi making his presentation at the ICT in Health forum in Accra

 

The second quarter GINKS ICT in Health forum took place on 22nd May 2015 and was organized for Nursing students of 37 Military Hospital Nurses Training School as part of their preparation towards their examination. The topic for the forum is "ICT for Public Health Services in Ghana".


Starting his presentation, the facilitator, Mr. Seth Afagbedzi, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, School of public health quoted "A person working in partnership with an information resource is 'better' than that same person unassisted.” Dr. Friedman

He said today we are in information Technology era, we have moved from the stone age to this era with its privileges. He added that the privileges of the new era surpasses the stone age period as things are much faster than it is in the stone age. Seth took students through earliest ICT applications as follows:

E-communication, E-commerce, E-Business, E-Administration, E-Government etc. He said as upcoming public nurse, they must focus much attention on the health of the population and not individual.

"Public health nurse’s core duty is to change health conditions of the people" Seth Afa
The point of public health is to first of all prevent diseases from happening and duties should be align with and reflect the rules and plans of the Government. We have laws in this country but we don't enforce them to the fullest benefit.
Evolution and Thematic areas of HICT/ehealth
eCare, eLearning and research, eAdministration, eSurveillance

If there is a public health need and you use technology to solve it, you are employing or using ICT in Healthcare. Now public health do not conduct research, their focus is just on practice and that is a all.
"About 80% nurses concern themselves with practice, ignoring research and learning" Seth

Public health must do vigorous research for information and new insight in healthcare in the 21st century. He asid as people, right from school, we like to copy but it is time to be innovative.
We have a lot o information and resources online on healthcare delivery to a point that typing in a particular dieases like malaria will bring precedures on treatement. We have useful resources on the internet but we dont search for it. There is also lots of health related websites available free online that nurses can use and learn from to enrich their practices. But today nurses do patient centered healthcare, lets use technology (mobile phone) so that the old woman do not also have to struggle to walk to the hospital for treatment or what so ever. In some cuntries, when there is health problem, one have to call the hospital.

Seth said as public health nurses, they must be investigative, they must study certain trends in the community and know what is happening so far as healthcare is concern. For instance if in a particular community majority of people are continuously buying cholera drug means there is is an outbreak of cholera in that community.
He said elsewhere, when doctors find dead birds, they pick up and send it to the lab to find out what kills it but in Ghana, they will rather kick it away from the way and that is all, no investigation, nothing.

A time will come where nurses and doctors cannot practice due to differences in mode of practice and also scarcity of esources. Government must endeadour to provide health istitutions witn the necessary resources to practice right from school. Public health must make it a point to educate and inform the public on good practices. One of the best ways to send information and educate the public is by using the local public.

Principles of Public Health

There are four principles, flowing directly from the scope and nature of public health, that distinguish it from other health care specialty areas:

Promote the health of populations as opposed to the health of specific individuals
Prevent disease and injury by altering the conditions or the environment that put populations of individuals at risk
Explore the potential for prevention at all vulnerable points in the causal chains leading to disease, injury, or disability
Should reflect the governmental context in which public health is practiced


Section of students taking note at the forum in Accra

What then is public health ICT?
Public Health ICT (PHICT) came about when public health officials began leveraging HIT in systematic ways
PHICT Definitions:
–“The science of applying information-age technology to serve the specialized needs of public health” (Friede et al., 1995)
–“The systematic application of information and computer science to public health practice, research, and learning” (Yasnoff et al., 2000)

He said Public Health's Mission is to “Promote Physical and Mental Health and Prevent Disease, Injury, and Disability”
This is accomplished through 10 “essential public health services” organized under three main headings
– Assessment
– Policy Development
– Assurance


Essential Public Health Services

1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems
2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community
3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues
4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems
5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts
6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of healthcare when otherwise unavailable
8. Assure a competent public health and personal healthcare workforce
9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services
10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems

He said among the qualities of a typical Public Health Professional is to train in both information technology and public health and also utilize Health ICT applications to solve public health problems.
Potential of public health ICT

Communication among geographically dispersed health workers and consumers
Delivery of public-health services by strengthening and streamlining data collection
Support of primary and secondary prevention via electronic health records and improved laboratory systems
Data collection for research studies, such as drug and vaccine trials
Environmental health interventions, such as biosurveillance, road safety and geographic mapping systems applications

HI Technologies and Tools

• Health Information Systems Technologies
Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
Personal Health Record (PHR)
Electronic Health Record (EHR)- CPOE, CDSS,E-Prescribing, PACs etc
Health Information Management Systems (HIMS)
Electronic Materials Management
TeleHealth (including telemedicine)
Web Technology for Online health systems
Health-related Informational Web Sites
Peer-health Web Sites
Health Application Web Sites


Public Health Geographic Information Systems
Mobile Health (mhealth) Technology

• Statistical tools
• Health care analytics/Big data
• eLearning Technologies
• Computer Programming
• Database Management Technology

He said the Electronic Medical Record can be used to store information on SIM card and be carried everywhere. The Personal Health Record contains details of individuals and can be modified and updated by patients/individuals. Seth explained that health information systems is longitudinal (from health to death). E-prescription has come to solve the difficulties associated with reading doctors writing.
Telemedicine is also another perfect agent in solving nurses or doctor to patient ratio in Ghana and must be taken seriously in healthcare delivery.

Early Public Health ICT Applications
Syndromic surveillance


Definition: Concerned with “the continuous monitoring of public-health related information sources and early detection of adverse disease events” (Yan et al., 2008)
– Utilizes information technology, statistical algorithms, data visualization techniques to identify trends warranting public health attention

Potential Data Sources for Syndromic Surveillance

Sales of over the counter drugs
Visits to the emergency department for certain ailments
Absentee data from schools
Physician office visits
Nurse hotline calls
Dead bird reports
Prescription from pharmaceuticals
Internet searches (i.e. Google)
Emerging PHICT Applications
Geographic Information System (GIS)

SMS Text messaging (has been used for public health purposes including; behaviour change support, diseases prevention, contact tracing, health education campaigns, data collections.
ICT to support patients with long term conditions

• Nurses have an excellent opportunity to contribute to innovation by using ICT to develop services for patients (NMC, 2009).
• Technology is transforming healthcare delivery. Advances in diagnostic technologies enable practitioners to contribute to clinical decision making from a distance.
• For example, ultrasound scans can be transmitted over telephone lines for specialist opinion. In acute situations, paramedics can call on medical assistance using web technologies, while patients with long term conditions can use SMS text messaging to confirm blood results (Horton, 2008; Shanit et al, 1996).

In conclusion, Mr. Seth urges students to maintain seriousness with their ICT skills and be able to deploy innovation that others can use, instead of using others’ applications and innovations in the field of nursing and public health practices.

Source: GINKS


............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Email: info@ginksgh.org | Telefax: +233 302 785654
© 2018 GINKS. All rights reserved