Managing Director of Focus Softnet Services, Moses Uvomata, tells IT Edge News, Anthony Nwosu, that government willful commitment to implementing ICT in the medical sector and attitude-change by medical practitioners are critical to bringing automation to Nigeria’s slumbering health industry.
Tell us about your organization and the strides made in Nigeria’s ICT space?
At Focus Softnet Nigeria, we can say we are ERP providers and we are also looking at hospital management solutions and software. With these mentioned solutions, we can be called ERP solution providers. We can be termed as a “supermarket” of software. We have arrays of software and we have made tremendous strides in the health sector. We have served many organizations in Nigeria and we also get high testimonials. We are also into using ICT to deliver health care service. Our solution known as Insta healthcare software is positioned to move the world to digital healthcare by delivering cost effective and innovative technologies. It is a global brand and we are part of the global network of vendors.
What are the impacts of these solutions targeting various sectors of Nigeria’s economy?
We have made impacts in various sectors in Nigerian economy. Our ERP solutions try as much as possible to answer the questions the business owners ask such as, what is the state of my business as of today? With these ERP solutions, these questions can be answered. People mistake our product or assume that it’s accounting software. It transcends more than that, ours isn’t just accounting software but an ERP. It answers questions like how many accounts you have, how much turnover has been made in a given period , it gives the result to the minute details to the last sales that you have made. This is the major thing that we have going for us, we have impacted from manufacturing to trading and construction. Ours is to increase the efficiency of these organizations. Our solutions try to answer the questions like, what is the position of the organization as of now. How much turnover have we made this year? These are the few things we try to answer with our solutions. We surpass just what accounting software or packages will do.
“Automated hospitals are less than five percent [in Nigeria]. It’s still a challenge to get Nigerian medical institutions to understand the importance of automation…. Government is a bit slow to understand the need to have their medical records and also have their medical facilities automated and digitalized.”
Nigeria hospitals and medical facilities are still managed on paper cards/files, how can medical enterprises be encouraged to adopt ICT tools?
Well, the truth is that it’s a teething problem. Automated hospitals are less than five percent. It’s still a challenge to get Nigerian medical institutions to understand the importance of automation. The few ones that are automated can be found in big cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt but that is less than five percent in all. Government is a bit slow to understand the need to have their medical records and also have their medical facilities automated and digitalized. The issue of bureaucracy is there, if you go to any state government today, you write a proposal the governor will pass it to the minister of health or commissioner of health, then the minister or commissioner of health will pass it to health the management board. The hospitals are under the board and the board might not take decision and they will in turn send recommendations back to the commissioner for approval and in the process of carrying these files up and down, you will see that in six months or even more, you haven’t even known the fate of the proposal. In Abuja they have a total of eleven hospitals and two of them are a bit automated. Those two are supposed to be pilot but they don’t have good solutions, they spoke to many vendors but at the end of the day we have only two that bided for it, along the line we were not chosen and what transpired we didn’t know. This was irrespective of our technical competencies. We still have a hospital that we have gotten in the eastern part of the country. I will not name the sate now, the state government wants to establish about 10 professionally run medical establishment in that region; they gave the contract to a specialist firm for them to manage the facilities from beginning to end. There was high level of professionalism in that state and that was how we were able to get a contract to manage and install medical automated software in that facility. They have started building and they have built three now, and going to eleven. The state government spoke to the foreign counterparts to help them manage and that was how we got the business. They have started implementation in three of the facilities. We won based on technical and financial competencies because they gave it to a professional firm. Funny enough, we didn’t meet the people that gave us the contract physically.
What is the value proposition of your solution to medical facilities that have many staff and also in comparison to existing competitions?
We can connect those that have more than one facility. With our solution, you can monitor many of your facilities remotely and understand what is going on there. This will be installed in the head office. Most solutions don’t do that. As an international product, experiences in various countries have been taken into consideration in developing this product. Then we have quick deployment, we can leave site in maximum of 60 days.
How does file management system be of help to health sectors?
The facilities owners are one people that can derive immense benefits from file management systems. They willingly have information at the tip of their fingers. You don’t need to call people to give you report, all you have to do is key into the system and get your report. You will also know if you are charging the right price for drugs. With these file management systems in place, the issue of selling expired drugs will be rare. The time to service a patient is reduced. This is one important thing that ICT brings to health sector. The operation cost is reduced, the cost of printing reduces and file keepers will not be employed again. These are advantages to facility owners. The patients benefits also due to uniform pricing. With complete file management system, a patient can do referral seamlessly to offshore medical facility instead of searching and scanning a case files to an oversea medical facility. The probability of giving wrong administration and medication is very low with automated medical software in place.
“Medical doctors are seen as not business men, some think that they don’t need your solutions and some other medical practitioners will know that they need the solution but feel they don’t have the money. This is one major challenge that we have been encountering in this space”
We have some health facilities that run many departments: pediatrics, gynecology, and obstetrics and even to payment/admin section, how can software connect these departments seamlessly without any hindrances?
We can do more than 300 users at a time, we are ready, but the only problem is latency issue. We advise the hospital or facility to buy a good server and with this all these department can be connected seamlessly. We recommend business continuity procedures. A lot of factors come into play like cost, speed of retrieval and so more. We ensure that we have a second server in place. From time to time you simulate failure and see how the second server works. We also have a backup in flat files that are not readable. It will be so encrypted that we can’t read it. This is due to confidentiality. This is a health record.
What are the business challenges that are peculiar to ICT adoption in medical sector?
Medical doctors are seen as not business men, some think that they don’t need your solutions and some other medical practitioners will know that they need the solution but feel they don’t have the money. This is one major challenge that we have been encountering in this space. They are not taking advantage of ICT. I think ignorance of ICT is one thing here. Health sector is seen as a social service all over the world. It can be used as a CSR by firms.