TELEMEDICINE, FUTURE OF MEDICINE, HEALTHCARE DELIVERY IN NIGERIA- EXPERT
A medical administrator, Dr Owen Omo-Ojo, has described telemedicine as a modern day medical innovation that would in no time transform the future of medicine and healthcare delivery in Nigeria. Omo-Ojo, also the Clinical Lead and Manager for Clinical Hub Nigeria, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday. She said that telemedicine was a convenient way for Nigerian families and individuals to receive quality and convenient healthcare from the comfort of their homes.
According to her, telemedicine is a branch of digital healthcare that uses telecommunications and technology tools to remotely diagnose and treat patients.
The expert said that telemedicine was particularly necessary to bridge the gap between expensive, inaccessible healthcare and convenient, qualitative, low-cost healthcare. She said that people could now sit in the comfort of their homes and receive the same or a better level of care that they would have received if they had walked into a hospital. “People in remote areas, who have issues of transport to healthcare facilities, will be able to receive this level of healthcare from the comfort of their homes,” the expert said. Omo-Ojo said that the world had gone digital, so Nigerians should be happy about the telemedicine innovations. She said that telemedicine digital healthcare had been around for a very long time, but Nigerians were just trying to embrace the whole idea of digital healthcare and digitisation. “In general, the world has gone digital. Everything can be done on a smartphone now. We are just trying to embrace digital culture, we are not there yet.
“As Nigerians, we are not there yet. We don’t typically have a digital culture as Nigerians, though, the western world has truly embraced digital healthcare,’’ the expert said.
Omo-Ojo, however, said that one of the major setbacks to the uptake of telemedicine was lack of access to quality internet service. The medical administrator said: “If you are going to subscribe to telemedicine, it is essential that you have quality internet connection. “This is because, if a doctor is trying to consult with you and the video keeps buffering and you are having connections issues, getting interrupted, then, you will not be able to fully appreciate the experience and benefit of the telemedicine platform.’’
Omo-Ojo said that Clinical Hub, however, had chosen to maintain a physical centre all over the nation. She said that the organisation was partnering with reputable diagnostic centres and reputable pharmacists for referral. “When a patient was done consulting via a digital app platform in the comfort of their homes, they will be referred to one of the reputable diagnostic centres. “The referral is to carry out certain investigations after which they are referred to pharmacists to pick up their medication or have it hand-delivered to them at home. “This is to ensure that there is an end-to-end experience, which a lot of telemedicine firms have failed to incorporate into their services,’’ Omo-Ojo said. She said another major thing that Clinical Hub had done which significantly set it apart from other telemedicine firms was that it had physical hubs situated all over Nigeria.
“In medicine you cannot take away the physical facility; what our physical hub is going to do is to have a physician, a licenced physician, present 24/7 in the physical hub to carry out examination for the patients,” she said. The expert equally advised Nigerians that travelled abroad for treatment to subscribe to Clinical Hub. She said that they could consult with the same physician they consulted with abroad or come to Clinical Hub facilities to consult the same physician via telemedicine, which was cost-effective. Omo-Ojo said that it was cost-effective in the sense that it had a niche market. “Our niche market is for people who travel abroad for treatment, we are providing a convenient and cost-effective alternative for these patients,” she said.