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The Five Key Drivers of Digital Health Adoption by Health Workers

By Wayan Vota on November 20, 2019

frontline health worker technology

The adoption of digital health in Ghana has been slower than expected, compared with the fast adoption of ICT in other important areas of business and social life. Digital health is still at the neophyte stage, with most hospitals only partially electronic.

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The low adoption of eHealth, mHealth, and digital health in Ghana has been judged to have had dire consequences on health provision, with two paramount factors:

  • Lack of coordinated information makes the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) difficult. The NHIS was introduced by the government in 2003 to improve access to healthcare for poor citizens.
  • The use of paper folders for health records and the requirement that patients locate their folders at the records office before they are attended to. Patients spend a considerable amount of time on this exercise and there are several instances were emergency patients have died as a result of this practice.

In 2010 the MoH launched an eHealth strategy to chart a clear path for digital health adoption in the country. The report outlined four key strategies that will ensure the full implementation of digital health:

  1. Streamlining the regulatory framework for health data and information management;
  2. Building sector capacity for wider application of eHealth solutions in the health sector;
  3. Increasing access and bridging equity gap in the health sector through the use of ICT;
  4. Building a paperless records and reporting system.

These strategies will only work if digital health is fully embraced and used by health care providers and professionals. Therefore the academic research paper, “Factors influencing adoption of eHealth technologies in Ghana,” by Agyenna Kesse-Tachi, Alexander Ekow Asmah, and Ebenezer Agbozo is critical to understanding the national strategy and corresponding health ecosystem interventions.

The study population was 1,640 health professionals and managers in the Greater Accra Region who are users and potential users of digital health at 82 public and private institutions, including Community Health Improvement Services (CHIPS); Health clinics; Maternity homes; Hospitals; Teaching and university hospitals; Psychiatric hospitals.

Five Key Drivers of Digital Health Adoption in Ghana

The study authors found the following five factors had the greatest influence on digital health adoption in Ghana’s health facilities:

  1. Being private;
  2. Having higher education;
  3. Being a tertiary practice institution;
  4. Being young;
  5. Being female.

The study found that working at a private institution was the greatest factor in digital health adoption. The authors theorize that since private health institutions generate all their income from patients, they have the incentive to institute digital health solutions to be more efficient and have a shorter turnaround time in order to be more profitable.

The study found that the relatively high resource availability at tertiary practice or referral institutions, such as Korle-Bu, the Ridge Hospital, Nyaho Clinic, and similar institutions, as a result of their referral or specialised status, influences their decision to adopt digital health solutions in their operations.

Survey analysis also indicate that individual factors, such as being female, being young, having a higher education and having spent more years in the professional role were statistically significant in influencing the adoption of digital health solutions by health professionals or managers. These suggest that the characteristics of the health practitioners, not just their institution’s status, are pertinent to the adoption of digital health in various health services.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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5 Comments to “The Five Key Drivers of Digital Health Adoption by Health Workers”

  1. DAVID B AFFUL says:

    Why are females more likely to adopt digital health than men in the Ghana survey?

    • I will be grateful to know why being a female is a key factor in the adoption of Digital Health. It appears this factor is inconsistent with the general slow adoption of ICT by females so pretty much what accounts for this will be appreciated

  2. Barbara Zalduondo says:

    Based on my experience in Other. Ountries in the region, I was surprised that two structural factors – reliable, affordable electricity and cell phone (if not internet) access, were not mentioned in the top 5. If structural and setting factors were not included in the study, to aboid misleading policy-makers, perhaps the title of the piece should be “Individual level drivers of…. etc.

    • Alexander Asmah says:

      With the facilities we surveyed, those structural factors were not major concern. All the hospitals were in Accra with all these infrastructure in place. In the case of rural areas, probably those factors would be top.

  3. Emmanuel Kuffour says:

    In the paper, were you referring to Community -Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) or there is a new program called Chips. I think what you have is misleading.

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