The Relevance of Tele-health in Health Care Delivery in Nigeria
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13-10-2010, 05:16 PM

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The Relevance of Tele-health in Health Care Delivery in Nigeria


We are in the age of Information Technology society where IT in addition to its infrastructures use in all spheres of human activity has been used extensively to record, store, and disseminate the information in the digital form. IT has almost converted the world into a global village. The revolution in the IT sector is also influencing the health sector. The Internet has made it possible for people all over the world to communicate with one another effectively and inexpensively. The advancement in computer and the Internet technologies has created new possibilities for doctors and their patients in the early 1990s. Now computers can be used to send live video, sound, and high-resolution images between two distant locations, doctors can easily examine patients in offices thousands of miles away. Rural patients no longer had to make long trips into urban centers to consult their specialists. Tele-health is the use of telecommunications and information technologies to provide healthcare services at a distance, which include diagnosis, treatment and prescription of drugs, in addition to public heath, consumer health information and health professionals’ education. It is the use of electronic information and communication technologies to provide and support healthcare when distance separate the participants. This article analyses the current state of telehealth, the usage of tele-health and the technologies involve. It also discussed its advantages and disadvantages in healthcare delivery in Nigeria as well as the benefits of telehealth to the doctors and their patients.

In medicine, a popular use of computers is in medical records for storing the history of patients (Ayeni, 1999). Computer can also be used to aid diagnosis and for scheduling nurses on duty. Technology has decreased in price and complexity over the past five years and many programs now use desktop video conferencing systems. There are many configuration of an interactive consultation, but most typically, it is from urban-to-rural location, the growth of Telehealth or Telemedicine continues to expand across the country.

The Health care in Nigeria has been mainly focused on medical diagnosis, consulting, data transfer (e.g. X-rays) and some medical education programs. Today, medical technologies and telecommunications are being used to support information-exchange in telehealth. This exchange of information takes place between a physician and a patient or between two physicians in geographical separated locations and to facilitate the exchange of information for medical, health care, research and educational purposes. Basically, telehealth is health care at a distance. Telehealth is a general term that includes many different technologies and telecommunications links applied to many different clinical and health education applications (Rod 2009:1).
However, in telehealth, a computer fitted with special software and a video camera turns a live video image of a patient into a digital signal. This signal is transmitted over high-speed telephone lines or the Internet to similar equipment at the doctor’s office, where it is converted back into a format that can be viewed live on a television screen. Telehealth also includes machines specially designed to measure and record a patient’s vital signs at home then transmit the information directly to a hospital nursing station. This electronic remote home care enables health care professionals to monitor a patient’s heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, blood-oxygen levels, and weight several times a day, without the patient ever having to leave home.

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