“Telemedicine Platforms Cannot Replace Hospitals” – Tremendoc CEO, Jay Chikezie
Healthtech startup, Tremendoc, organized a webinar on October 20 which was tagged “Increasing the capacity of healthcare providers through technology“. The webinar was anchored by tech blogger, Tobi Ayeni (Miss Techy), and featured a panel that included Obinna Ukachukwu: Sterling Bank’s divisional head for education and health and others.
Tremendoc provides access to a doctor through its mobile app. The company launched in 2019 and has since carried out more than 35,000 consultations on its platform. Read our full review of the startup as well as how to use the mobile app here.
The event opened up with a focus on the challenges currently faced in the health sector in Nigeria. Having patients’ records stored electronically is one of the advancements that the global health sector is seeing. However, in Nigeria, the concept of electronic medical records (EMR) is still far-fetched for many hospitals.
The challenges that arise when hospitals attempt to migrate data that have been collected from patients manually over the years to electronic form causes some to abandon the project altogether.
Challenges such as funding and consideration of the sheer volume of paperwork that need to be converted to digital causes hospitals to choose to continue with the manual model instead of digitizing.
Technology is an enabler and the increased popularity of telemedicine has helped to further democratize access to quality medical care. The recent lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country in March caused hospitals to try to adopt telemedicine by using social platforms such as Whatsapp and Zoom to provide consultation to patients.
This also showed the need for customized platforms that doctors could use to give virtual consultation sessions to patients. Buttressing the role of telemedicine in increasing the capacity of healthcare providers, Tremendoc’s CEO and founder, Ugochukwu Jay Chikezie added that the telemedical platforms are like siblings to traditional healthcare systems.
“Telemedical platforms alone are not enough and they can not take the place of hospitals,” he added.
Dr Somina Awantaye buttressed this by saying that with telemedical platforms, patients only have to go to the hospital when the doctor feels it is an absolute necessity.
Funding becomes a challenge in some occasions when patients visit the hospital and this then requires the hospital management to be able to assess the credit risk.
“Unfortunately, hospitals are not built with the capability to assess and take on credit risk as prolonged debt will run down the organization,” according to Obinna Ukachukuwu.
Hospitals can, however, partner with fintech organizations who are trained to assess risk and can provide the loan that the patient needs. This takes the burden of the debt off of the shoulders of the hospitals and transfers it to more capable hands.
With the continued involvement of tech in the medical sector, access to affordable and quality healthcare from providers will keep increasing in the country.
However, pressing challenges, which include insufficient access to healthcare, still remain the focus of problem-solving activities for now, and only after the present challenges are taken care of will the full extents of innovation come up in the sector.
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