Kenya provides a perfect environment highly conducive to creative and innovative eHealth solutions to support the health system deliver quality and affordable healthcare services. A fusion of multiple factors including a talented technology young population, technology naive, un-saturated and sub-optimally implemented health information systems, constantly challenged by a health system heavily burdened by rapidly rising healthcare costs, inadequate skilled healthcare workers, emerging health threats, and an un-prepared policy environment, continues to pose unique challenges to effective implementation of eHealth solutions. The field of biomedical informatics is ill-defined and not fully recognized as an official cadre particularly in the public sector, yet this is where comprehensive skillsets in biomedical informatics are most needed.
The Kenya Health Informatics Association, (KeHIA - www.kehia.org), was founded in 2010 by local pioneer informaticists keen on harnessing the collective potential, intelligence and power of biomedical informatics to guide capacity development, solutions development, implementation and most importantly, meaningful use of eHealth solutions to support delivery of affordable quality healthcare services. KeHIA works very closely with the Division of Monitoring and Evaluation, Health Research Development and Informatics at the Ministry of Health, Departments of Health and ICT at the county governments, health and ICT development partners, academic community, and all other stakeholders, to appropriately and effectively promote the development and professional, ethical practice of biomedical informatics. We are guided by our Mission; To harness and utilize informatics expertise resources and take lead in supporting and advocating for innovative development, standardization, application, regulation, adoption, strengthening and promotion of effective health information technology for quality healthcare services delivery and research and Vision; "To establish, promote, advice and regulate appropriate application of health informatics for improved health services delivery and research at an affordable cost in Kenya."
Our belief that eHealth holds the potential to significantly transform healthcare access and delivery in Kenya and Africa at large is well supported by scientific evidence. However, we as a country risk losing out on this potential health benefit by not effectively addressing political, technical, and financial resource challenges that continue to prevent us from fully reaping the benefits of wisely investing in eHealth. KeHIA is set up to facilitate, lead and offer opportunities to eHealth systems architects, software developers, implementers, policy developers, healthcare delivery frontline workers, patients and the public, to elevate eHealth as a core component necessary for continuous healthcare quality improvement.Recent outbreaks and other health threats of international concern have brought fore this realization. Multiple reports from the post-ebola outbreak assessment attributed health system failure to lack of timely and quality information to decision makers. This alone would have averted deaths and morbidities caused by the Ebola outbreak. The entire information system and associated electronic tools were ill-designed and implemented to support effective detection and response. This situation is replicated across many African countries including Kenya. The promise that eHealth is a panacea to such similar situations remains a promise for as long as the profession of biomedical informatics is not holistically developed, nurtured and regulated to actualize this promise. KeHIA, through its membership has contributed to the following achievements; Development of several standards and guidelines for health information systems. This includes;
- EMR systems, Primary Health Care EMR Systems, Pharmacy Information Systems, Laboratory Information Systems, mHealth Information Systems,
- Development of the Kenya Health Enterprise Architecture, etc.
- Development of the eHealth policy and revision of the eHealth strategy.
- Building capacity of healthcare workers to meaningfully use health information systems
- Hosting the first ever health big data analytics symposium bringing together key stakeholders in Kenya (and globally) to start defining a pathway to achieving benefits of health big data analytics for the health system in Kenya.
- Design, development and implementation of Ministry of Health endorsed Electronic Health Records systems.
- Demonstration of standards based interoperability and effective data exchange.
- Representation of eHealth interests in a Health Bill now under discussion in parliament.
KeHIA is guided by a strategic plan consensually developed with contributions from all its members. The key strategic areas for the remaining 2 years of its life are consolidation of membership, enablement of un-interrupted interaction and engagement through a well designed, neutral virtual platform, and better representation at multiple levels that will benefit from biomedical informatics interventions. We welcome all those with an interest to contribute and/or learn to join us in revolutionizing healthcare delivery services in Kenya and beyond.