digital health interoperability network dhin
DHIN wants to partner with the federal government to widen the scope of digital healthcare in Nigeria.

DHIN Seeks To Partner FG On Digital Healthcare

The Digital Health Interoperability Network (DHIN), an Abuja-based NGO, has recently voiced its readiness to partner with the Federal Government to expand the scope of the digital healthcare system.

The DHIN management made this statement on Tuesday in Abuja during a roundtable on Unique Identifiers for Management of Cross-Institutional Duplicate Health Records’.

Speaking, Mr Emeka Chukwu, a Digital Health Consultant and a Co-Convener of DHIN, said the initiative was born out of a passion for the workable solution to healthcare system interoperability in Nigeria as practised in the banking sector.

“For many years we have been in this field and we have not seen practical application in Nigeria’s healthcare system and we have realised that everyone is trying to build his own Interoperability system.

“And we figured that what we need to do is to bring people to work together, not at a theoretical level but at a practical level to start building systems that are interoperable not as one organisation but as multiple organisations.

“Just like what we have in the banking sector, Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), where we have a system that settles transactions across banks. We also want to stand as an organisation like NIBSS that will settle transactions in the health sector across hospitals in Nigeria.

According to him, when the health system is strengthened, then those in the rural areas will also benefit and technology has shown that it increases access to healthcare facilities, and reduces cost if it is properly implemented.

“When systems are interoperable, you can serve cost, you can make sure that there are no duplicate records, no fraudulent system, and other waste in the system can easily be streamlined. “

Also, Mrs Vivian Okafor, Head of the E-Health Division, Federal Ministry of Health, explained that the digital health initiative aimed to achieve universal health coverage to involve rural areas in particular.

“We in Nigeria have come to imbibe digital health and are currently at the Ministry of Health. In fact, we are looking towards digitising all our Federal Tertiary Institutions. We are hoping that the states and the lower level of health will equally follow suit because, with digitisation, it will go a long way to improve health outcomes in Nigeria, ” she explained.

Okafor further stated that the forum would serve as a medium to collectively identify some gaps and challenges to extend digital services to rural areas in particular, looking at challenges such as epileptic power supply, and gaps in technology/internet systems among other factors that could hinder the initiative.

Mr Emmanuel Edet, Ag Director Standards Guidelines/Frameworks, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), explained that the essence of the initiative was to promote the use of digital technology in healthcare delivery.

According to Edet, NITDA is a government agency charged with the responsibility of encouraging the development of the digital economy in Nigeria and the agency is interested in the initiative brought by the DHIN to expand the scope of the health system in Nigeria.

“We are particularly interested because our function has to do with encouraging the development of the digital economy in Nigeria and one of the sectors that will benefit a lot from the digital economy is the health sector, ” he said.

The other participants at the forum were; Public Health Professionals, Digital Health/ Digital Software Developers, Doctors, stakeholders in health sectors, Health IT Innovators, Data Scientists, Policymakers and regulators.