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1.1 Background of the Study
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, the 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.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Several studies have reported on information technology use among medical and health workers reported that while information technology capabilities (personal computers, mobile phones, Internet) were available in Nigerian teaching hospitals, mobile phones were spreading fast. Information technology has greatly advanced the course of health delivery in advanced countries. It is also a known fact that computers and mobile phones were in use in all the teaching hospitals but not much Internet connectivity was available, meaning that most of the medical experts used external (non hospital) Internet services, such as cybercafés, for even rudimentary Internet access, such as e-mail. Several research further explained that while just 1.4% of the medical staff did not use the Internet in any fashion, the vast majority (70.7%) of those using the Internet did so only for e-mail. However, the researcher is examining the effect of information technology on service delivery in Nigerian Teaching hospitals
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of the study was to investigate the impact of the use of ICT on the performance of the health care facilities specifically to:
a. To establish the extent to which ICT is used in healthcare facilities in Nigeria
b. To determine the key challenges in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in healthcare.
c. To Establish the relationship between the utilization of the ICTs and the performance of the healthcare facilities
1.4 Research questions
2. What is the extent to which ICT is used in healthcare facilities in Nigeria?
3. Determine the key challenges in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in healthcare?
4. Establish the relationship between the utilization of the ICTs and the performance of the healthcare facilities?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The following are the significance of this study:
1. Findings from this study will educate the administrators in the Nigeria health sector on the benefit of information technology on service delivery if applied in the tertiary hospitals.
2. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study on information technology and service delivery will cover the level of use of information technology based system in the tertiary hospitals in Rivers state considering its effect on health care service delivery.
1.7 Limitation of the study
1. Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
2. Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Information technology: the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.
Tertiary hospitals: A tertiary referral hospital (also called a tertiary hospital, tertiary referral center, or tertiary care center, or tertiary center) is a hospital that provides tertiary care, which is health care from specialists in a large hospital after referral from primary care and secondary care.
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