Key Tips to Prevent Fallbacks When Implementing eHealth
Jul 06 2012, Tanzania [TZ], Health
Moving to a fully successful use of Electronic Health (eHealth) applications such as electronic patient registration and digital training tools can be challenging for hospitals. After initial enthusiasm, there is often a fallback. Key tips to increase the successful implementation of eHealth, based on IICD’s experiences in Tanzania.
1. Gradually build upon existing structures
It’s important not to rush into different electronic health systems, but to build it up gradually. Health management information systems are the most solid base. It provides the basic information structure on which to add applications such as telemedicine. Similarly, the competences of staff are built up step by step. But sometimes this might go fast.
2. When using ICT, keep in mind that organisational change is complex
It can be hard to a more information-based style of hospital management. Aspects such as leadership and organisational culture have to be taken into account. See IICD’s publication Improving quality and affordability of healthcare in Africa through an eHealth package for more information.
3. Ensure that the use of eHealth feels rewarding
If nurses use a digital system to register patients and then doctors or financial staff do not use the system, the nurses will lose motivation. This sounds simple, but experience shows that this is a complex process that deserves thorough attention.
4. Consult everyone
As hospital structures are often hierarchical, often hospital management takes decisions without getting everyone on board. Doctors, nurses, administrative staff and - of course - management all need to be able to provide their input. This participatory approach should be followed from the start. For an example of how this works, see IICD’s roundtable approach.
5. Identify agents of change
This builds upon point 1. Change takes time, but identifying people who are more inclined to already use a new system, can help. For instance, some doctors in Tanzania do not like to use computers, but clinical workers do. This group is then great to start with as a team of change. In short this could be summed up as: Identifying teams of change or agents of change.
These points are derived from the 2012 publication Improving quality and affordability of healthcare in Africa through an eHealth package.