DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AUTOMATED TELEMEDICINE SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
In most under-developed or third world countries like Nigeria, there are very large numbers of patients in the remote rural areas that need specific healthcare support services at home. Due to shortages of medical experts, hospitals coupled with geographic isolation and lack of opportunities for these experts, the few available medical experts are often reluctant to serve in such poorer areas with lesser opportunities and advantages. As a result of this, people living in these rural and poorer areas have limited access to basic healthcare services and consequently receive lower quality healthcare services, compare to those living in urban areas where best equipped hospitals and with medical experts are distributed. Those patients living in the rural areas requiring the attention of healthcare practitioners to meet their needs must travel to distant healthcare centres, which is quite unaffordable due to the present state of medical emergencies. Thus it has become very crucial and important to develop a robust system that will drastically improve and change the present state of healthcare delivery services. In this research work, an interactive-mode telemedicine environment is designed to provide tools for overcoming the unequal distribution of medical experts, establishing meaningful consultations between the rural health workers and specialists located in larger medical centers. The proposed system also provides opportunities for the healthcare workers to gain access to vital information that can aid in the diagnosis of patient’s health state or the development of suitable treatment plans and for the patients to fully enjoy an enhanced healthcare service in the rural areas and urban cities. The technological approach for the implementation of the proposed system is based on open source solutions. The system is implemented on Windows 2003 network operating system platform. Web server is apache extend with support for PHP. In recognition of the 7 confidentiality of data contained in the system, communication network are protected with open-(ssh) library for data encryption and role-based authentication is built into the system as security pass mark for accessing information in the data base.