Information Technology and Services Delivery (a Case Study of Tertiary Hospital in Rivers State)
Information technology (IT) is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several industries are associated with information technology, including computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, engineering, healthcare, e-commerce and computer services (Wikipedia, 2015).
World population now exceeds six billion of which more than 4.7 billion reside in the developing world. As the population is increasing there is a need to find ways of improving efficiency and quality of health care delivery systems in developing countries especially in Nigeria where this research is conducted. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been identified as a vehicle with the potential to improve the quality of health care systems as well as the efficiency and service delivery of the health workers both in the developed and developing countries. Information and communication technologies have changed the face of the world we live in (Jensen, 1998).
ICT enables people to communicate with family, friends and colleagues around the world instantaneously, gain access to global libraries, information resources, and numerous other opportunities. ICT may also bring an improvement in health care service delivery systems. So, we may define information technology as one of the driving forces of globalization.
Since the year 2001, there has been a revolutionary growth in the telephony industry which is a major branch of information technology in Nigeria. This is expected to have permeated the health care institutions with significant positive impact on health care service delivery. Two years after the introduction of GSM in Nigeria, conducted an interview among medical practitioners in some Nigerian teaching hospitals to find out the current level of utilization of telephones for health care service delivery. They noted that medical experts use their personal mobile phones to facilitate patient care at their own expense. Neither the government nor hospital management had taken up the responsibility. Currently, the number of GSM service providers in the country has increased significantly and all of them keep rolling out several service options or packages including internet services with varying benefits to attract customers (Agboola, 2003). Although, A GSM based referral system was developed, validated and recommended for use in the primary health care centres. The extent to which the growth in telecommunication has impacted tertiary health care service delivery and how far this has enhanced the development of an ICT –driven health care practice in Nigeria is still to be known. This has necessitated the need for study into the relationship between information technology and service delivery in tertiary hospitals in River State.
The production of quality health-care service delivery in a country is guided by the level of the information technology infrastructure possessed and used by that country. A good information technology infrastructure, therefore, is a prerequisite for enhancing the well-being of a country. Gates (1999) reported that intra- and inter-organizational networks in some advanced countries function like a digital neural system of the organization. Thus, he inferred that information communication for health purposes has shifted from the largely manual or physical documentary method to digital communication. He further stated that such access to information technology has helped disseminate information to the rest of the world. American doctors are now able to collaborate as often and as quickly as they want with other medical doctors in other parts of the world through the use of information technology. For example, while examining a patient, a medical doctor might be able to send an electronic x-ray of a patient to a leading expert in another country who could readily interpret and provide more details of the disease or condition, as well as send feedback to the medical doctor all within a few minutes. Medical researchers, in their research and application processes, can use the Internet to identify research issues, search literature databases, seek out information on surveys and clinical trials, and published research results.