The Digital Health Act 2023 established a legal framework aimed at utilizing technology to improve healthcare services in Kenya. We take a look at the objectives, the margins within which actions shall be undertaken, the role that digital health capabilities shall play as per the act, in delivering a sustainable, patient-centered health system, the establishment of the digital health agency, and a few pointers as to how these objectives can be achieved and what this means for healthcare workers.

The digital health agency has the following functions among others:

  • To develop, operationalize, and maintain a comprehensive integrated health Information System to manage the core digital systems and the infrastructure required.
  • Establish registries at appropriate levels to create a single source of truth concerning clients, facilities, healthcare providers, and healthcare products and technologies.
  • Promote the adoption of best practices and standards for digital health that facilitate data exchange.
  • Ensure health data portability.
  • Certify digital health solutions based on best practices and standards.
  • Facilitate collection and analysis of data to inform policy and research in the health sector.
  • promote the development of enterprise-class health application systems.
  • Establish a system of shareable and portable personal health records, based on best practices and standards.

The agency provides for a board of directors with ten members, one of which shall be the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) who shall be an ex-officio member. The qualifications for appointment include a master’s degree from a recognized university and at least ten years of knowledge in data science, data governance, health informatics, digital health, or any other relevant field.

A comprehensive integrated health information system shall be administered by the agency to serve as a point of collection, collation, analysis, reporting, storage, retrieval, and sharing of health data. Components of this system comprise an ICT environment like data banks and enterprise service bus, data quality assurance and audit, shared or common resources including the national health data dictionary, client, health worker, and facility registries, and product catalog, just to mention a few. Objectives of this system include:

  • facilitate data collection and reporting at all levels.
  • enable secure health data sharing to ensure timely and informed interfacility health service delivery.
  • facilitate the tracking and tracing of health products and technologies in the country.
  • serve the health sector and facilitate progressively and equitably realization of universal health coverage, to achieve the highest attainable standard of health.
  • safeguard the privacy, confidentiality, and security of health data for information sharing
AlSO READ:  Accept New Terms or Leave, WhatsApp Starts Rolling out Updated Terms of Service

Technical aspects of the system are further defined in the act, on the adoption of internationally accepted standards, procedures, best practices, and formalities for implementation. The health data governance framework is further outlined to ensure data security, interoperability, exchange, and integration of health data.

E-health service delivery e.g., telemedicine, e-learning, telehealth, and electronic health records has been recognized as a model of health service delivery under the act, and provisions and objectives are given to guide healthcare workers in their service. An E-waste management system shall also be developed by the Cabinet Secretary in liaison with county governments for the health sector to promote reuse.

Patients and healthcare workers stand to benefit immensely from the establishment of the digital agency. The National and county governments should prioritize the employment of skilled healthcare workers with sufficient knowledge and experience in the data field. Private institutions can offer data-proven solutions to the government, in private-public partnerships, to aid in the management and securing of the huge datasets expected as well as the maintenance of the infrastructure put in place to handle the same. Healthcare staff should embrace change and adapt to new technologies and workflows, through continuous education and training, networking and collaboration, and even on-the-job training.

Tertiary institutions should make a point of offering specialized programs and courses in digital health, health informatics, data analysis, and other relevant fields. They can conduct research in digital health technologies, provide internship opportunities for learners to gain practical experience, and develop curriculum standards in collaboration with the digital health agency.

The private sector should invest in digital health infrastructure and technologies, collaborate with the agency for smooth interoperability, offer funding and support for research as well as partner with healthcare organizations and the agency to scale digital health solutions.

Follow Techspace Africa on Facebook and Twitter. For the latest news, tech news, breaking news headlines, reviews and live updates check out tech-space.africa


clinton
The author, drawing from a clinical background, is a passionate advocate for health tech and informatics, actively observing and analyzing digital innovations within the healthcare industry.

You may also like