ICTs and Public Healthcare Service Delivery in a Developing Country Context: Critical Factors Towards Addressing the Health Divide

Authors

  • Taurai Togarepi Chikotie Cape Peninsula University of Technology

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12856/JHIA-2013-v1-i1-62

Abstract

Background and Purpose: Global references continue to suggest that, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in healthcare service delivery has brought with it great advancements. In developing countries, various ICTs and healthcare initiatives/ policies have been put in place to address challenges of providing equitable health care and improving the quality of health care services in a cost efficient manner. Although in Africa the advent of e-health has offered an exciting opportunity to reduce or control the growing healthcare inequity, a lot still needs to be done in drawing up the appropriate strategies to narrow the disparities in the access to healthcare delivery information (Kifle and Mbarika, 2006). These disparities have led to the coinage of the term “health divide”, meaning the gap existing in the access to healthcare information using ICTs between those who have access to healthcare and those who do not have (Mbarika and Samake, 2005). South Africa has implemented initiatives addressing such disparities however; all has not been well with most of these initiatives as they have failed to achieve their anticipated objectives. This therefore, calls for effective e-health strategies to ensure the full exploitation of the benefits it brings towards narrowing of the health divide. This article therefore outlines the research question as: What are the effective strategies of narrowing the health divide in developing countries?

Purpose: To identify those factors or variables imperative to drawing up strategies for narrowing the health divide using ICTs within the public healthcare sector in a developing country context, in this case South Africa.

Research Methodology: Data was gathered using literature analysis, key informant interviews and government websites on health. Data analysis methods used on survey data include, descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and factor analysis.

Results: Exhausting all the variables towards narrowing the health divide is very complex. However, findings suggest that there is need to attend to socio-technical, economic, and political issues to address this problem. Issues noted were, the failure of the public sector to keep pace with the private sector technologically, poor funding, lack of policy makers, poor infrastructure, unskilled personnel amongst many other issues.

Conclusion: Proper planning for ICT deployment can bear tremendous results in narrowing the health divide. However, there is need to engage a diverse group of health professionals and policy makers including the public.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Taurai Togarepi Chikotie, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

PhD Student in the Socio-Informatics field with interest in Information and Communication Technology utilisation in healthcare service delivery

References

Wootton, R., et al. (2004). Prospective case review of a global e-health system for doctors in developing countries. J Telemed Telecare; 10(Suppl 1): 94–6.

Garrib, A., Stoops, N., Mckenzie, A., Dlamini, L., Govender, T., Rohde, J. & Herbst, K. (2008). An evaluation of the District Health Information System in rural South Africa. SAMJ, Vol 98 (7): 549-552.

Neumann, P.J., Parente, S.T. & Paramore, L.C. (1996). Potential savings from using informationtechnology applications in health care in the United States. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care. Vol.12(3): 425-435.

Raghupathi, W., & Tan, J. (2002). Strategic IT Applications in Healthcare. ACM. Vol. 45(12): 51-56.

Heeks, R. (2006). Health Information Systems: Failure, success and improvisation. International Journal of Medical Informatics. Vol 75: 125-137.

Edirippulige, S., et al. (2007). Strategies to promote e-health and telemedicine activities in developing countries. International Development Research Centre Publications. URL: http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-137423-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html . Online [Accessed: 18 October 2012].

Kimaro, H. C. & Nhampossa, J. L. (2007). The challenges of sustainability of health information systems in developing countries: comparative case studies. Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries. Vol 1(1): 1-9.

Mantzana, V., Themistocleous, M. & Morabito, V. (2010). Healthcare information systems and older employees’ training. Journal of Enterprise Information Management. Vol. 23(6): 680-693.

Lluch, M. (2011). Healthcare professionals’ organizational barriers to health information technologies: a literature review. International Journal of Medical Informatics. Vol 80: 849-862.

Eysenbach, G. (2001). What is e-health? Journal of Medical and Internet Research. 3(1): e20. URL: http://www.jmir.org/2001/2/index.htm. [Accessed: 20 August 2013]

Motsoaledi, A. (2012). South Africa's healthcare declining. (Online) URL: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-09-07-motsoaledi-sa-health-care-declining [Accessed: 03 July 2013]

World Economic Forum. (2013). Global Competitiveness Index 2013-2014. (Online) URL: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2013-14.pdf . [Accessed: 10 September 2013

Mbarika, V & Kifle. (2006). Telemedicine in sub-Saharan Africa: The case of tele-ophthalmology and eye care in Ethiopia. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 57(10).1383 -1393.

Department of Health. (2011). The District Health Information System Policy White Paper for the Transformation of the Health System. URL:http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/policy/2012/dhmis.pdf. (Online) [Accessed: 15 June 2013]

Al-Yaseen, H. M. (2012). Challenges of Implementing Health Care Information Systems in Developing Countries: Using a Mixed Method Research. Journal of Emerging Trends in Computing and Information Sciences. Vol. 3(11): 1521-1525.

Mbarika, W.A & Samake, K.D. (2004). E-Health in Africa: A vision for a healthier Africa. American Journal of Public Health. 96(1). 73-78.

Statistics South Africa. (2012). Mid-year population estimates, 2012. (Online) URL:http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/statsdownload.asp?PPN=p0302&SCH=4986 . [Accessed: 17 September , 2012].

Mars M, and Seebregts, C. (2008). Country Case Study for e-Health South Africa. (Online) URL: http://ehealthconnection.org/files/resources/County%20Case%20Study%20for%20eHealth%20South%20Africa.pdf . [Accessed: 12 March 2013]

Department of Health. (2013). eHealth Strategy South Africa 2012-1016. URL: http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/stratdocs/2012/eHealth_Strategy_South_Africa_2012-2016.pdf. Online [Accessed: 15 July 2013]

National Treasury South Africa. (2013). Budget Fiscal Review 2013. (Online) URL: www.treasury.gov.za/documents/.../2013/review/FullReview.pdf . [Accessed: 23 August 2013]

Department of Health. (2012). eHealth Strategy South Africa 2012-1016. URL: http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/stratdocs/2012/eHealth_Strategy_South_Africa_2012-2016.pdf. Online [Accessed: 15 October 2012]

Matshidze, P. & Hanmer, L. (2011). Health Information Systems in the Private Health Sector. (Online) URL: http:// www.medicalschemes.com [Accessed: 27 August 2013].

Coovadia, H., Jewkes, R., Barron, P., Sanders, D. & McIntyre, D. (2009). The health and health system of South Africa: historical roots of current public health changes. Lancet. Published (Online) DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60951-X

Klein, H. K. & Myers, M. D. (1999). A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly, Special Issue on Intensive Research. Vol. 23(1): 67-93.

Walsham, G. (1995). Interpretive case studies in IS research: nature and method. European Journal of Information Systems. Vol. 4 : 74-81.

Walsham, G. (1993). Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations. Chichester: Wiley.

Quibira, M.G., Ahmed, S.N., & Tschang, T. (2002). Digital divide determinants and policies with special reference to Asia. Asian Development Bank: ERD Working Paper Series no.27.

Rodrigues, R.J. (2008). E-Health Strategies in America. The Commonwealth Health Ministries Reference Book. 5(3): e4. URL: http://www.ehealthstrategies.com .[Accessed: 19 June 2008]

Published

2013-09-23

How to Cite

Chikotie, T. T. (2013). ICTs and Public Healthcare Service Delivery in a Developing Country Context: Critical Factors Towards Addressing the Health Divide. Journal of Health Informatics in Africa, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.12856/JHIA-2013-v1-i1-62