The Emergence of Digital Healthcare Platforms in The 21st Century

Understanding how Digital Healthcare Platforms come to Stay in Nigeria

by op-ed contributor

The 21st century is the era with the most technological advancements in history. Technology is at its peak and though this century has numerous technological achievements, there are probably three achievements that stand out and are the most common. 

These three achievements are the invention or improvement of the internet, medicine, and smartphones, and computers. One could even say that the further development in technology spans from these three inventions. They have made life easier, created job opportunities, served as a form of amusement, and also saved lives. People have become attached and dependent on these technologies.

The Era Without Digital Healthcare Platforms in Nigeria

In the past, although aspects of medicine like treatment, methods, and procedures had improved significantly, its application still had some drawbacks. Patients had to go to the clinic for a doctor’s consultation. They also needed to be physically present to be able to book a doctor’s appointment, even if they had no intention of seeing a doctor that day. Getting a doctor’s appointment was hard, but not as hard as getting to the clinic itself. People had to endure the traffic and long queues at the clinic just to get a doctor’s appointment. 

When people felt a bit feverish, they either go to the pharmacy or self-medicate, which sometimes has adverse effects. Reaching a physician was not always easy, unless you had one as a friend, relative, or you lived close to a clinic. All these factors contributed to the reasons why most people decided to self-medicate. For example, if you had a tooth or gum problem in Nigeria, the usual solution was to rinse your mouth with warm salted water and hope for the best.

Taking medical tests was another issue. People had to wait in long queues, and some even booked the test dates days or weeks before the actual time. Growing up, my medical reports used to be in files. With time, they became digital, but still, patients did not have an accessible personalized digital medical record. Most clinics that stored patients’ medical records on servers, only granted such patients access, when they were in the clinic.

Integration of Digital Healthcare Platforms in Modern Medicine

The issue in the application of medicine was soon addressed with the emergence of ‘digital healthcare platforms’. These digital healthcare platforms served as the stepping stone into a new age of medicine in general. 

Medicine has undergone massive improvements this century. From its practices to its methods, treatments, procedures, and also studies. Illnesses and diseases that were not curable are getting cured or have been adequately managed. Various technological advancements including the internet, computers, emails, smartphones, and telecommunications, have been integrated into medicine. 

The main objectives were to address the major setbacks in the application of modern medicine while keeping the key fundamentals involved in medicine. The emergence of digital healthcare platforms revolutionized modern medicine as we know it, and has made the application of medicine easier, faster, more effective, and also efficient.

Read also: How to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Nigeria

4 Core Applications and Benefits of Digital Healthcare Platforms

Digital healthcare platforms took a different approach, by providing a medium to connect people with clinics and healthcare workers. Though some of these platforms also provide medical services, they are the middleman in the medical sector. The digital healthcare platforms addressed most of the issues with the application of medicine and categorized the solutions into four, namely – home care, telemedicine, clinic visit, and EMR/PHR.

Home Care Services

With home care services, patients can bring the clinic to their doorsteps. All they need to do is register with any digital healthcare platform and then book any healthcare worker around them. The platforms usually display the expertise and specializations of every health worker that has signed up with them. Home care services cover various scenarios such as doctor visits, nursing services, postoperative rehabilitation, medical testing, and elderly care.

Using home care services, doctors can now visit any patient that requests their services at the comfort of said patient. This saves the patients the hassle of visiting the clinic.

Nursing services

Nursing services can also be offered to the elderly, pregnant women or babies, in the clients homes. We all know the elderly need special care monitoring, with their food, and general physical activities. Specialized health workers provide these types of services to the elderly. 

Pregnancy is very difficult for some women, that is why there are special health workers that will assist these women through the pregnancy process. The newly born also benefit from home care services. Parents can request for nurses to help take care of their newly born children, pending when they no longer need such assistance. These cases usually come up, especially when the babies’ mothers are still recovering from childbirth. 

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Post-surgery rehabilitation

After surgery, patients usually need some months to heal and this is where home care comes in. The patients can now rehabilitate in a familiar environment. Thanks to the digital healthcare platforms, all they need to do is request a nurse and physiotherapist to assist with the healing process.

Medical tests have also been made easier. Patients don’t need to go to the clinic or medical laboratory to perform their tests. With only a click, laboratory technicians would be available at their homes for the tests. Personalized medical reports are also available for patients to keep in touch with their progress.

Tele-medicine

Tele-medicine has reduced the need to physically see a doctor by providing virtual medical care. Telemedicine in Nigeria is categorized into 5 parts: tele-nutrition, telenursing, teledentistry, tele-pharmacy, and telerehabilitation.

Tele-nutrition

It involves the online or video consultation with a nutritionist or dietician, by patients. They upload their diet logs, feeding habits, daily meal pictures, or vital statistics on the nutrition portal, then the dieticians or nutritionists analyze their current medical conditions. Based on the provided information, the nutritionists can give medical advice and a standardized diet list. What type of food they can eat, the ones they should avoid eating, and also when to eat. All these happen without physical contact and from anywhere in the country.

Tele-nursing

It uses information technology and telecommunications to aid nursing activities. Through telenursing, home care services are performed over long distances, where clients or patients cannot access a physical nurse. It eliminates the barrier problem and links a patient with a nurse or multiple nurses, whereby the nurses give detailed visual descriptions of how clients can take good care of their loved ones.

Tele-pharmacy

This provides pharmaceutical care to patients digitally. It is useful in situations where the patients do not have direct access to any pharmacist. Virtually, patients get advice on which drugs to purchase and the appropriate dosage to take the drugs. The patients are also monitored to see if there are improvements in their health conditions.

Tele-dentistry

It utilizes video conferencing and telecommunications to connect patients to well-equipped dentists. The dentists provide dental care, offer dental consultation, and also preventive measures to tooth-related conditions.

Tele-rehabilitation

This provides a medium in which recovering patients can virtually connect to physiotherapists. The physiotherapists guide the patients through the recovery process, providing them with a physical training schedule and also visually demonstrating to them how to carry out these light exercises. 

Clinic visits

Clinic visits enable patients to book medical appointments with any hospital, clinic, or health care professional that is fully registered on the digital healthcare platform. It saves the stress of going physically to the clinic to book an appointment and allows people to carry on with their other planned activities of the day. With clinic visits, people with busy time schedules can book a doctor’s appointment, from anywhere they want; in their room, office, or even on the road. It enables people to be able to keep up with other engagements, encourages people to visit hospitals more, and also eases the tension on the health care professionals.

EMR/PHR

EMR/PHR stands for ‘Electronic Medical Records /Personal Health Record System’, it merges these two terms. It manages all aspects of hospital and patient records. It encompasses the medical, financial, and also administrative records of all patients. 

EMR/PHR also gives patients access to their medical records. It is designed for hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, retail pharmacies, and individual patients. Through this service, healthcare providers can access patient records easily, and also patients can track their medical progress.

Benefits to Healthcare Providers

Aside from these digital healthcare platforms assisting patients, it has also helped out health care professionals by providing job opportunities for them. Healthcare workers can now use these platforms to work full-time or part-time. It also eases the stress of connecting with their patients. Healthcare organizations like hospitals and clinics also benefit from these platforms by increasing their reach or coverage and easing the experience of dealing with customers.

Read also: Artificial Intelligence in Business

Digital Healthcare in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the amount of digital healthcare platforms has increased over the years. An example of this is ‘MyMedicalBank’. They call themselves the Uber of digital healthcare platforms, serving as a platform, whereby patients and healthcare workers can meet, interact and transact. 

Nigerians are starting to catch up to this relatively new concept, though for now, literates or high-class individuals are more familiar with the platforms. With time these platforms will stamp their authority in the market and Nigerians will understand how stress-free, effective, timely, and efficient digital healthcare platforms can be.

About The Author

Agbaje Titilope is a young, enthusiastic writer, who graduated from the University of Lagos. He has written various articles and write-ups for various blogs and is versatile, he can write any genre of topics; ranging from entertainment, business, history, politics, lifestyle, and so on. He can also write stories and is an expert in content marketing. He can be contacted via titiagbaje22@gmail.com

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Op-Ed are articles published by guest authors. We no longer accept guest posts. However, we are still open to adding long-term content contributors to our team of insightful writers. To write for us, please check out inisght.ng/guest-post.

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