The potential of ICT in contributing to the efficient and effective performance of the health sector is very high especially in remote diagnosis and treatment. Timely collection, management and dissemination of critical information has significant bearing on the performance of the sector in general.
To this extent, the health sector has embarked on reforms that include development of Health Management Information Systems at various levels. Equally important is the Telemedicine programme being initiated as a deliberate effort to maximise the services provided by the few but highly experienced medical personnel whose services can only be extended through technologies such as Telemedicine. Therefore, connectivity of medical institutions to services such as telecommunication and Internet is an important milestone in the use of ICTs in the health sector.
Telemedicine also can be used to provide both basic and continuous skills transfer to health professionals. This will help mitigate isolation of health professionals in rural areas. The dissemination of medical information through ICTs will facilitate informed decision-making particularly in hard to reach areas.
Some of the challenges in integrating ICTs in the health sector include:
- The need to improve ICT Infrastructure to support basic communication systems and specialised applications such as telemedicine;
- Inadequate ICT awareness and skills among health professionals to effectively utilise the ICT tools and services;
- Inadequate support services for installed ICT equipment especially in rural areas;
- Incorporating and prioritising ICT in the core business of healthcare delivery.