Experts seek stricter regulation to improve medical services in Nigeria
For the managed health care industry to thrive and ensure enrollees are adequately cared for, Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), Medical Scheme Managers (MSM), service providers and other stakeholders in the sector will have to focus their attention on core functions of keeping enrollees healthy, claim adjudication, resource planning, out source non-core duties, claims payment, and data hosting among others.
These, according to stakeholders can be achieved by putting in place policies, setting standards, protocols, guidelines to regulate and improve the quality of healthcare delivery and services in the country.
Stakeholders in both the private and public sector as well as legal practitioners, recently converged at a one-day health symposium/ provider forum organized by Novo Health Africa in collaboration with Vita Veritas LLP, law firm to address, create innovative ideas and solutions in health care practice in Nigeria, educate doctors in health care delivery and services of their rights and responsibilities as well as patients rights to improve the system in the country.
The symposium held at Ikeja, Lagos, has as theme: “Ethics in Medical Practice: The need for Protocol in healthcare delivery.”
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive officer, Novo Health Africa, Dr. Dorothy Jeff Nnamani, who spoke with newsmen said the forum was to address and educate doctors on their rights and responsibilities towards their patients health, and also laying emphasis on the patient’s right and centred healthcare management procedures.
She added that the management and care of patients does not just stop in the hospital, but proper documentation in the hospital can affect the patient’s health profile, just as patients have rights and when aggrieved could seek redress, which is why a multi-sectorial approach is used to strengthen and improve the quality of the country’s healthcare system.
She added that firm regulations would be carried out on healthcare providers and their facilities to ensure that adequate services are rendered to patients.
In her presentation, ‘Doctor – Patients Communications – rights and Responsibilities’, Nnamani said doctors-patients relationship is a major challenge in the healthcare system as it is key and vital thereby affecting the outcome and quality of healthcare services.
She said proper communication between both parties would prevent misdiagnosis and inaccurate treatment.
“Communicating with patients deeper about their life and activities can help in your diagnosis and treatment, rather than just prescribing and deciding an ailment and treatment for them. Doctors should consider the patient, know the type of communication method/model to use for the patient, but unfortunately, some doctors are interested in the money they want to make out of the patient, rather than take their time to study the patient, which affects the quality of healthcare in the country’” she stressed.
The Medical Director stressed that the attitude and response of doctors and nurses to their patients have contributed to the challenges in the healthcare facilities, which has triggered medical tourism.
She said, “Patients happiness should be the topmost priority, when they are happy, the money will come in. patients love where they receive treatments with happiness. Patients management begins with communication.”
She added that healthcare providers should focus on the well being of their patients as the consumer rather than making them money ventures.
In his presentation, ‘Doctors and Lawyers: Strange Bedfellow, Mr. Stephen Agbeyegbe, Patner/Member, Vita Veritas LLP, said there have been many flaws in healthcare delivery, such as wrong/misdiagnosis, which could sometimes lead to the death of patients. He added that patients put their hopes and confidence on doctors/physicians for treatment of their ailment, which unfortunately have been shattered as wrong medications are giving with adverse effect, stressing that medical experts should provide patients with accurate and best treatment.
He said legal firms take on cases on the improvement of healthcare delivery in the country, as most times patients do not know their rights neither do doctors know their obligation, which is why legal practitioners and advice is needed by healthcare providers to perform their obligation, and if error occurs would know how to prepare and defend themselves.
Agbeyegbe bemoaned the incompetence of medical professionals cutting corners to treat patients rather than referring to specialist for accurate treatment saying, “a case above your expertise should be quickly referred to another expert in whom is his/her area of specialization, rather than treating it yourself all because of the money involved, thereby putting lives at risk.”
He added that there should be protocols and standards to regulate professionals in the healthcare system.
The National President, Health Care providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN), Dr. Umar Sanda said the forum which seeks to educate stakeholders will go a long way to improve the health insurance industry in Nigeria, by looking at the problems and giving solution to move forward.
He added that the challenges facing the health care industry are many, saying “Our aim is to achieve universal coverage, where Nigerians would have access without any financial disturbance to healthcare, as it would be affordable, accessible and qualitative especially for the poor, so as to move the economy forward,” he said.
Also, the Programme Director, Safecare PharmAccess Foundation, Nigeria, Dr. Ibironke Dada, who spoke on the protocols in health care delivery, said for every healthcare provider to improve the quality of services in their facilities, there must be policies, procedures and protocols established that would guide them within their practice to provide optimal quality of care.
She, however, said the Nigerian health system is weak and would require the government, policy makers, stakeholders in the health sectors and advocacy group to ensure regulations are strengthen on both the HMOs and the service providers in order to have better health outcomes for Nigeria to come out of being one of the countries with the worst indices in the world.