Utilization of ICTs for Accessing Health Information by Medical Professionals in Kenya: A Case Study of Kenyatta National Hospital

Dr. George GATERO

Abstract


Background: The study was conceived with the aim of investigating the availability and utilization of information and communication technology for accessing health information by medical professionals in Kenya. The study started from the premise that access to relevant information and knowledge is critical to the delivery of effective healthcare services.
Objectives: These were to: identify the information needs of the medical professionals; determine the sources and channels of information used by the medical professionals; identify the factors for which they require ICT support in accessing health information; establish the extent of the current usage and level of adoption of ICTs among the medical professionals; determine the potential challenges and prospects of utilization of ICTs in health information access; and suggest and recommend measures to be taken into account in the improvement, adoption and use of ICTs in health information access by the medical professionals.
Design: Semi-structured qualitative interview study. Data were collected on individual occurrences of the phenomenon. Grounded theory approach was used as an analytical tool.
Setting: The research was exploratory in nature and used Kenyatta National Hospital as a case study
Results: Major themes that emerged from the data are highlighted. The key findings of the study were that: medical professionals needed information continuously in the course of their clinical work. Clinical governance, care of patients and professional updating on the current medical practices were the main reasons for needing and seeking information. When the medical professionals needed clinical information, they turned to colleagues. Text books and journals were also frequently used sources of information. However, there was a substantial preference for e-searching for information from the internet and e-journals. The findings revealed lack of library and information services, inadequate access and use of electronic information resources and inadequate ICT skills among the medical professionals.
Conclusions: Many critical information needs of the medical professionals were not being met adequately. Improved usage of ICT was viewed as the only realistic strategy for enhancing information access and information sharing among the medical professionals at the hospital. Recommendations for enhancing access to health information at KNH include: establishment of a hospital library and information services; appointment of information professionals with skills and capabilities to conduct online information searches to assist in clinical decision-making and ability to train clinicians in ICT skills; formulation of ICT strategies and policy; capital investments in the form of internet and supporting ICT infrastructure; involvement of all stakeholders; and allocation of adequate financial resources for improved access to health information by the medical professionals. A framework for establishing an e-health library was proposed and presented.

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