Working with electronic communication

Ralph, Nicholas ORCID: (2015) Working with electronic communication. In: Professional and therapeutic communication. Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Australia, pp. 302-319. ISBN 9780195591064


The ‘digital age’ (or ‘electronic age’) is an expression used to describe the increasing presence of digital technologies in today’s society. The term digital refers to the way in which data are expressed on devices to enable a meaningful interface between a machine and its user. For instance, a series of digits such as 0s and 1s may translate to letters, numbers or algorithms that tell a digital device (such as a computer) to do something. Although these digits are nonsensical to the untrained eye, their conversion from digital sequences into everyday language in emails, text messages, pagers, web pages and software programs and the like that enable us to work with digital or electronic forms of communication.

Electronic forms of communication have infiltrated nearly every facet of modern society. Devices such as the personal computer (PC) and the iPhone have revolutionised how machines can connect us to the world, resulting in constantly evolving ways in which we communicate. For instance, while electronic communication in the social context revolved around early forms of web-based social media such as Facebook, younger technologies are more mobile orientated with applications (Apps) such as Twitter (messaging service) and Instagram (image sharing application) becoming increasingly prevalent. While these technologies have rapidly engaged users across the world, more formal settings such as healthcare are slower to employ newer forms of communication (and in some contexts, any form of electronic communication). For instance, the literature is replete with instances where the use of electronic health records has been stymied (Greenhalgh et al. 2010; Sidorov 2006); telehealth initiatives have been constrained (Nicholson et al. 2013; Walker & Whetton 2002); and other social media use has been condemned (Sarringhaus 2011; Terry 2011; White et al. 2013). Although this might lead to the conclusion that healthcare is averse to new technology, such a concept could not be further from the truth. Few fields outside healthcare have taken advantage of the technology of new life-saving or life-changing devices such as the cardiac pacemaker, the cochlear implant, and diagnostic medical imaging. Where many technologies fall down in healthcare is at the point of communicating electronically. Healthcare, by nature, is a human-oriented system; it depends on strong interpersonal communication whether clinicians or patients are involved. For many, electronic communication is seen as an impediment to the delivery of patient care, rather than a means of enhancing it.

In this chapter, we explore way of working with electronic forms of communication in the healthcare setting. We address commonly used forms of electronic communication and ways in which you can professionally and meaningfully use them in delivering quality patient care.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Print copy not held in the USQ Library.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jan 2015 - )
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jan 2015 - )
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2016 02:59
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017 04:49
Uncontrolled Keywords: electronic communication; healthcare
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified

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