Designing and scaling up a health system in accordance to our needs and resources is quite a herculean task in Nigeria and in 2016, a study by Global Burden of Disease ranked Nigeria health systems 142 out of 195 countries, which equates to a very substandard delivery of healthcare. Following the evolution of digital era, the use of electronic medical records in developed countries have contributed tremendously in the provision of quality health care delivery to their citizens, showing up to 40% standard use according to Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey 2016.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) enhances quality patient care using computerized records in place of paper-based records, major challenges that hinder the uptake and use of EMR is cost and accessibility. eHealth4everyone is one of the leading organizations that provides easy access to EMRs
Considering the low uptake of electronic medical records, what do you recommend be done to scale up its use and improve the health care system in Nigeria? What steps should be taken to ensure the introduction and consistent use of electronic records to improve our health systems? What other factors are to be considered when adopting electronic records into the Nigerian health system?
A good way to start is to begin compilation of previous medical report online and ensure new ones are placed up online. It will be easier to transfer medical report and improve time in attending to patients
One of the major stumbling blocks to the introduction of EMRs is the lack of knowledge from health practitioners who will use the systems as well as the paucity of medical professionals who are knowledgeable enough to implement these systems. This is aside the other peculiar problems we face like Electricity, Infrastructure and legislature.
EMRs would be more popular if there was some sort of training in its use as part of the training health professionals received, there could also be incentives provided to hospitals willing to implement EMRs similar to what has been done in the US.
I firmly believe if facilities committed to the initial costs of converting old paper based records and procuring the necessary tools to implementing electronic records, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks.
Where i live, EMR yields effective medical documentation which helps the healthcare professionals take the best course of action for their patients. Its advantages cannot be over emphasized .
However, for Nigeria, a way to introduce it to the health system could be through the financial and technical support of developed countries and NGOs to put into effect, an EMR structure that fits into this environs.
Also training of health staff so they can have the right skills to handle EMR and stable power supply by the government could be of help too.
This is a very good recommendation that should be implemented. Then we move on to the next step, how do we get the health system to start compiling these old records? Any possible suggestions?
You most definitely have great trust in the health care system where you are based. I agree that technical and financial support from external bodies would definitely jump start the process.Any suggestions on how Nigeria health system can sustain the use of EMR after receiving support?
It is quite telling the number of factors that could hinder its uptake but your recommendations are very straightforward and simple to implement, I must say. And what are these incentives for converting old paper records?
The hospital i worked in had like an entire floor for records, with a whole fleet of records staff who still had trouble retrieving really old medical records.
That entire floor/fleet could be replaced by a few people and a few computers, records from 10 years ago could be retrieved in seconds - minutes. In the long term everyone benefits. Conserved resources for the hospital, improved efficiency and ease of access for health workers and reduced wait time for patients.
I think trainings should be done for those in charge of medical records and monthly monitoring should be carried out to ensure medical records is done electronically, however after each days work everything should be sent to server for back up
I’ve actually experienced the switch from paper records to EMR where i worked and one of the major problems encountered was reluctance from the staffs/healthcare professionals to change to something new. In Nigeria we are comfortable with what we are used to and most times not willing to bend other ways. But the most important thing is training as i got to know that a lot of healthcare professionals are not computer literates
I can clearly see how filing paper records is reducing the quality of health care delivery in this instance. Yes, I strongly agree with you, everyone in the system would benefit extensively if EMR is adopted nationwide.
Monthly training! That is a good way to start.
The use of EMR cannot be overemphasized as it makes work for the health professionals that use it to be more efficient. I was opportuned to work in a clinic where it was in use and i loved it.
I recommend massive creation of awareness by reaching out to major hospitals and clinics about EMR, providing adequate training and retraining of personnel in charge of the records.
To integrate old records into EMR might be challenging but one hospital at a time might will go a long way
Training is definitely necessary! And I presume the use of EMR has made your work easier, more accurate and faster as compared to the use of paper-based records, right?
I like that this would encourage the creation of jobs (for data entry and conversion from paper records to electronic records). So health agencies and job creation agencies (I don’t know if there are actually any) should support this initiative. I think the benefits of EMRs (such as scheduling appointments away from the hospital, sending emergency notifications ahead of arrival, etc.) should be advertised by facilities that have adopted it and by organizations offering EMR services. This would get more people and facilities interested.
These benefits stated would really be welcome by a lot of people especially those with busy schedules. Thank you for highlighting these benefits.
Well proper funding by government and/or in conjunction wt private partners, designing a unique well synchronization online platform to be used by all health care centres at least by public health centres where majority of patients are found and. Training program being sessioned and made available wt ease to ensure the knowledge and the technical know-how are properly disseminated to officials in the health care system
Synchronizing online platforms is such a spectacular suggestion. I believe there are some organisations already working independently and even with the government on this but it is yet to gain coverage over the 36 states.
The job could be outsourced to a firm who could help transfer the paper records to digital one and then workers in medical record section should be trained