Prof. Mohammed Sambo, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has said that the Scheme will digitalise its services before the end of this year.
Sambo, who made the disclosure on Sunday in Abuja while fielding questions on Forum, the flagship News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) programme, said the move was part of initiatives to herald the birth of what he tagged electronic-NHIS or ‘e-NHIS’.
According to him, e-NHIS is a major reform, for which a framework had already been developed and is being seriously pursued by the NHIS management to achieve change in the way NHIS does its business completely.
“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 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.”
According to Sambo, the entire health system can be automated through the e-NHIS to make the process easier for everyone.
“With e-NHIS, we can even have electronic medical records of patients, giving their medical history to date.
“Electronic medical records also create room for tele-medicine and many more possibilities.”
The Executive Secretary said that the scheme had already received approval, from the Federal Executive Council, to deploy the process from manual to an automated one.
He said 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 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.”
He said that the management of 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.
“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,” Sambo said. (NAN)