Digital health Systems in Kenyan Public Hospitals: A mixed-methods survey
Muinga N., Magare S., Monda J., English M., Fraser H., Powell J., Paton C.
© 2020 The Author(s). Background: As healthcare facilities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries adopt digital health systems to improve hospital administration and patient care, it is important to understand the adoption process and assess the systems' capabilities. This survey aimed to provide decision-makers with information on the digital health systems landscape and to support the rapidly developing digital health community in Kenya and the region by sharing knowledge. Methods: We conducted a survey of County Health Records Information Officers (CHRIOs) to determine the extent to which digital health systems in public hospitals that serve as internship training centres in Kenya are adopted. We conducted site visits and interviewed hospital administrators and end users who were at the facility on the day of the visit. We also interviewed digital health system vendors to understand the adoption process from their perspective. Semi-structured interview guides adapted from the literature were used. We identified emergent themes using a thematic analysis from the data. Results: We obtained information from 39 CHRIOs, 58 hospital managers and system users, and 9 digital health system vendors through semi-structured interviews and completed questionnaires. From the survey, all facilities mentioned purchased a digital health system primarily for administrative purposes. Radiology and laboratory management systems were commonly standalone systems and there were varying levels of interoperability within facilities that had multiple systems. We only saw one in-patient clinical module in use. Users reported on issues such as system usability, inadequate training, infrastructure and system support. Vendors reported the availability of a wide range of modules, but implementation was constrained by funding, prioritisation of services, users' lack of confidence in new technologies and lack of appropriate data sharing policies. Conclusion: Public hospitals in Kenya are increasingly purchasing systems to support administrative functions and this study highlights challenges faced by hospital users and vendors. Significant work is required to ensure interoperability of systems within hospitals and with other government services. Additional studies on clinical usability and the workflow fit of digital health systems are required to ensure efficient system implementation. However, this requires support from key stakeholders including the government, international donors and regional health informatics organisations.