Integrated Big Data E-Healthcare Solutions to a Fragmented Health Information System in Namibia

Integrated Big Data E-Healthcare Solutions to a Fragmented Health Information System in Namibia

Valerianus Hashiyana, Jacob Angara Sheehama, Paulus Sheetekela, Frans David
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3053-5.ch015
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This chapter showcases a big data platform solution for the Namibian health sector using handheld, portable devices, mobile devices, desktops, and server systems targeted to capture patient information, keep records, monitor and process patient health status. This chapter oversees the architectural design of the system that is more oriented towards specifications of user requirements on usability of mobile devices and their applications for e-health systems. This chapter is looking ahead to the benefits that come along with good investment in the e-health, which require a very philosophical and pragmatic systematic transformation of the hardware, software, and human resources in the health sector. Sustainability of the e-health system in the future is very promising as young professionals embrace these technological advancements from the training time and can take over the system without a big IT support staff as most of them are IT literate.
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The ministry of Health and Social Services is the entity responsible for facilitating the well-being of the Namibian citizens by making sure the nation has put in place awareness programs on how to prevent diseases, adequate hospitals, health care centers and pharmacies in the country. This should be facilities with qualified professional and state of the art medical equipment for use to diagnose and treat diseases. The ministry is also responsible for the provision of medicine, hence the need for an integrated pharmaceutical service centers with treatment centers (Schultz, 2013).

The health system has more than 340 hospitals and clinics, as well as more than 1150 small service points across the country including emergency centers (Services, 1990). Although this seems to be a lot of facilities in the country looking at the population of only above 2 million people, the county is vast populated and many people still live in remote and rural areas where there are less or not health care center at all. Most people still work distances to reach certain health care center.

In remote rural areas inadequate housing, information and communication technology infrastructures, and lack of social services in the country contributes lack of professional residing to such health care centers. Thus, most health care centers in remote rural areas have limited medical services due to unqualified or lack of specialists in the country (Dr B. Haufiku, 2018).

Since independence in 1990 the Namibian Healthcare sector uses a manual system to keep patients records. The information about the patient is written down on a manual Passport (fig 1). All the illness and the prescription of medication are written in the manual health record Passport pages. This makes it difficult for doctors and nurses to keep track of the patient’s treatment, medication prescription and record if the patient’s health record Passport is not available.

Historically, traditional frameworks and solutions generally placed policies and regulations that mostly entails ethical control measures of data use at the initial data generation and gathering stages by getting consents from patients and family members.

Even though people make use of the existing health care centers, there is still many gaps within the health care service provision system of the country to make it interoperability functionalities for proper health services delivery in the country.

Figure 1.

Namibian Healthcare patients Passport.


The healthcare patient record passport is hand written in an unorderly manner by the nurses, doctors and specialists. Making it cumbersome for the follow-ups and medical diagnosis of the record of a patient’s health status and illness communication not properly done. It makes it difficult for the health professionals to evaluate promptly the patient’s history.

The Namibian patients based healthcare Passport (record) has many disadvantages:

  • It can be easily get lost;

  • It can be easily damaged by fire, water or teared off;

  • It can be easily stolen or get confused among others;

  • It is not 100% linked to hospital records, and national health database.

The Namibian healthcare patient record passport has the following advantage:

  • Secure record keeping between the patients, nurses and doctors.

The Namibia health system established to promote, improve and maintain the well-being of its citizen’s good health by preventing, curing diseases and rehabilitate those that fell victims of different illnesses (Seen Environmental Learning Information, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Data Protection: Is the process in information and communication technology that deals with the ability an organization or individual to safeguard data and information from corruption, theft, compromise, or loss.

Healthcare: Is the organized provision of medical or patient care to individuals or a community.

Big Data Analytic: Is a complex process of examining extremely large amount and varied data sets, or big data, to uncover or reveal valuable information – such as patterns, unknown correlations, trends and preferences that can help patient caring institutions make informed decisions.

Artificial Intelligence: Is the theory, development, and practical use of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as medicine prescription, perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Medicine: The science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease using drugs and or therapy methods.

Cross-Platform: Refers to a software or a multi-platform software or hardware platform-independent software) is computer software that is implemented on multiple computing platforms like specific equipment, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Pharmacy: An institution dispensary where medicinal drugs are prepared to be given for free or sold to patient.

Diagnosis: Is the process of identifying the nature of an illness or other patient’s problem by examination of the symptoms and possible treatment.

Data Privacy: Is the aspect of information and communication technology that deals with the ability an organization or individual to determine what data and information in computer system can be shared with third parties.

Medication: A drug or other form of medicine that is used to treat or prevent a disease.

Patient: A person receiving or registered in health care providing institution to receive medical treatment.

Patient Care: The process in which a person is receiving or registered to receive medical treatment.

Big Data: Is an extremely large amount and varied data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal valuable information like patterns, trends, relations, and associations, especially relating to human treatments and behaviour and interactions that can help institutions make informed decisions.

Integrated E-Healthcare System: Is a combination information system and platforms embedded to work together to provide information about patient's contacts with primary health care facilities and professionals as well as subsets of information about treatment, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.

Telemedicine: Is the practice of providing medical treatment and caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other.

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