Mr. Mike Aigbe, a Director at GeneSys Health Information System, on Wednesday called for a proper legal framework of digital health for Nigeria to boost quality service delivery.
Aigbe made the appeal during a three-day technical conference on e-health, organised by the Lagos Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Technology in Lagos.
The theme of the event was;" Lagos State Smart Health Information Platform (SHIP)".
He said the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Communications, had started working with entrepreneurs to develop a policy document for digital health.
Aigbe noted that apart from the issue of lack of legal framework, the health sector also had other challenges such as high administrative costs, rising healthcare costs, staff shortages and lack of data.
He said it was essential for the sector to adopt a form of centralised care system to get improved health, affordable healthcare, and better population outcomes.
Aigbe emphasised that the healthcare system needed to go digital to make services to patients seamless.
"Digital and artificial intelligence technologies would help enable on-demand interaction and seamless processes through a choice of devices to improve the patient experience.
"In the past, typically every major hospital's design project started with the same discussion: How many beds do we need?
"This conversation is changing and bed count is no longer the primary design driver for many hospitals of the future.
"By now many health systems should be shifting their efforts to improve care quality, create more efficient processes, and enhance patient and staff experience," he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Simisola Akintola, a lecturer with the University of Ibadan, said there were several gaps that should be addressed to strengthen current and informed future policies.
This, Akintola said, would help with respect to the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT), to improve the health system performance.
She noted that policies should align with the national health plans and existing policies on e-Health and public health.
"There are numerous existing policies and strategies that describe activities related to ICT for health in Nigeria, some of which have been enacted and others have not yet been signed off by the relevant ministries.
"Any standard policy should have accompanying strategic documents to guide planning and implementation.
"Policies should integrate clear guidance on how to formally engage stakeholders, key tools and systems currently being used by the government in the health domain," Akintola said.