How Can Africa Use Interoperability To Expand And Improve Patient Care?
>> How Can Africa Use Interoperability To Expand And Improve Patient Care?
Interoperability has been revolutionizing the healthcare sector in many countries worldwide. It has become part of the state’s official medical policy. However, outside of Northern America, Europe, and certain parts of East Asia, the rest of the world is slow to adapt to this change.
One of the areas where interoperability can improve and expand patient care is in Africa. We discuss interoperability and how it can benefit the African people by revolutionizing healthcare.
What is Healthcare Interoperability?
The basic definition of healthcare interoperability is the ability of various healthcare systems to exchange information and data amongst each other through seamless and efficient channels. This includes the digitization of healthcare data and the creation of networks linking various healthcare providers.
It also helps bring patients, providers, and payers into one loop for an enhanced healthcare experience.
How Does Interoperability Address Patient Care in Africa?
Patient care refers to preventing, managing, and treating illnesses in patients and restoring their health. It also includes preserving that health and helping a patient make a full recovery.
1. Helps build reliable medical health data
One of the most significant issues in African patient care is that medical healthcare data is scattered and often only with the patient. Through interoperability, patient care providers can create electronic health record systems (EHRs) to digitalize data and store it electronically. It also reduces patients' chances of losing their medical records and allows various healthcare systems to update them as needed.
2. Make consumer-centric health systems.
Interoperability helps create healthcare systems where consumers are at the system's heart. This helps ensure that healthcare is affordable and of good quality to improve the general health conditions across many African countries. It also helps regulate businesses and standardize healthcare. Patients, payers, and providers understand what medical treatment is being given, its costs, and any other issues.
3. Improve the scope of telehealth services
Extended distant health services like telehealth and online consultation are weak or completely lacking in most African healthcare structures. Interoperability allows them to expand these areas and provide healthcare to those who cannot directly visit hospitals or clinics. This is especially important as a pandemic prevention method.
4. Create a good crisis response network
Digitalized data, electronic health records, better communication, and telehealth contribute towards making a broader healthcare network. This also extends to crisis response and emergency services. Interoperability can help link various relief providers and healthcare systems so that they may collaborate and act faster in challenging times.
5. Strengthen communication channels
Interoperability also improves communication between healthcare providers, patients, and payers for increased information and medical data exchange. Strengthening communication channels allows different healthcare professionals to see the same patient interact virtually and update the medical file or leave notes. It can also help in research and development where other African countries contribute to fighting pandemics or diseases.
The Way Forward
Although interoperability can change the healthcare landscape in Africa, there are a lot of changes that have to be made for the countries to adapt to it. Including interoperable standards in governmental health policies, investing in healthcare IT, and moving towards digitizing the healthcare system are the prerequisites for a successful upgrade to healthcare interoperability.
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