The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is to digitalise its services before the end of this year, the Executive Secretary of the organisation, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, announced in Abuja on Sunday.
Sambo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the digitalisation was part of initiatives to herald the birth of what he tagged electronic-NHIS or e-NHIS.
The executive secretary, who is the latest top government functionary to feature at the NAN flagship forum, said that the management of NHIS had already developed a framework to achieve the e-NHIS policy.
According to him, e-NHIS is a major reform that is being seriously pursued by the NHIS management to change the way the scheme does its business completely.
He explained that “the concept of e-NHIS is to allow for a paradigm shift from the manual mechanism of driving the company’s business process to an automated one.
“We want to see a process where enrollment will be automated and from the comfort of your bedroom, you can enroll into the NHIS register; select your provider, select your Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) and even make payment.
“So, people will only come to NHIS office to get their Identification Cards (ID).
“We are even musing on the idea of electronic ID cards, so that you can just walk into the healthcare facility and you will be attended to.
“The scheme will have minimum requirement for the healthcare facilities so that they can continue to be in NHIS.’’
Sambo said also that through the e-NHIS, the entire health system could become automated, so as to make things easier for everyone.
He explained further that “with e-NHIS, we can even have electronic medical records of patients, giving their medical history till date.
“Electronic medical records also create room for tele-medicine and many more possibilities.”
The executive secretary assured that the scheme had already received approval from the Federal Executive Council to deploy the process of a shift from manual business process to an automated one.
He said that in addition, the NHIS had adjusted its operations to achieve maximum results in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the beginning of COVID-19, we looked at our mandate to see what should be done to ensure that NHIS adapts to the changes brought by the pandemic.
“In fact, it is on record that at the beginning of COVID-19, most of our healthcare providers had no sources of income and we were afraid of the fact that enrollees in the NHIS would be turned back.
“We were not even sure that we will continue to have funding to be able to sustain our programmes.’’
Sambo said that the management of the NHIS had to modify the payment pattern to ensure effective service delivery.
“So, what we did quickly was to look at our business process, where we paid premium to HMOs on monthly basis and they in turn, paid premium to healthcare facilities.
“We modified that to quarterly payment and I can tell you without fear of contradiction that it was the quarterly funding that stabilised most of the healthcare facilities during the onset of COVID-19.”