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Health Care Communication Technology

Health care communication technology is rapidly advancing. New modes of communication in the health care arena are making it easier for the patient and the physician to communicate in a more effective manner.

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With the technological advancements that have taken place over the past decade, communication has evolved from handwritten charts to completely paperless electronic communication. Whereas before, correspondence could have taken days or weeks, information can now be transmitted in a matter of seconds.

The implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has allowed patients to be involved in their health care, the system enables physicians to record patient histories, enter orders, display test results, write prescriptions, and print patient instructions and educational materials (Makoul, G. , Curry, R. , & Tang, P. 2001). The electronic medical record is much more efficient to the patient; the patient no longer has to wait until the report is filed in chart to obtain results.

It allows the patients information to be securely accessed by the physician and shared with a specialist for consultation. With access to vital information such as diagnosis, allergies, medications, treatments, and other medical information the patient is able to participate and be accountable for their health care needs. In 1996, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) were created to ensure privacy and confidentiality of patient’s medical information.

The Administrative Simplification provisions of HIPAA were designed to improve the quality of health care and simplify the management of health information. Because the potential for identity theft is increasing with web-based programs, the importance of maintaining confidentiality is critical. One aspect relating to the values and importance of maintaining patient confidentiality when using EMR is trust.

Despite concerns regarding breaches of confidentiality and computer systems, patient feel that if they can trust their physician, then they would trust the provider with their medical information, as well as its storage and use in a computer network (Whetten-Goldstein, Nguyen, and Sugarman, 2001). Although there are many different modes of communication between the patient and the physician, such as email, texting, web based forums or electronic medical records all have the same thing in common, that is interaction between the patient and the physician. EMR is unique in that it offers features that lead to increased patient safety.

Many of the other forms of communication do not have a continuous safety feature that EMR has. The overall safety of patients through reduced medical mistakes, built in reminders and alerts, the detection of potential drug interactions, it makes errors more difficult for physicians to commit (Spratt, A. D. and Dickson, K. E. 2008). Media and social networking has changed communication in health care. Information is accessed and shared in a matter of seconds from all over the world. “The internet provides

marketers and consumers with opportunities for much greater interaction and individualization” (Kotler, Shalowitz, & Stevens, 2008, p. 463). Social networking holds considerable potential value for how patients research their health care issues. If a patient is looking for others with the same medical condition, they can find support and share their findings with anyone around the world. Many organizations are creating Facebook pages to market services they provide, introduce new staff, give news updates, or advertise new products.

This type of social networking caters to the younger generation that prefers searching the web over reading an ad in a newspaper or magazine. As technology becomes accessible to most people, printed advertisement will be seen as a nuisance rather than a form of communication. Advancing technologies in health care are increasing, allowing information to be accessed in a matter of seconds. The media and social networking that allows organizations to communicate with consumer has become individualized to their needs.

Organizations must use these tools to encourage communication by inviting suggestions, questions or even complaints via the website from consumers. Communication in health care has benefited from this technology; it has improved the interaction between the patient and the physician. Communication modes used in health care are reducing the risk of errors and increasing workflow. Electronic medical records offers features that lead to increased patient safety, including fewer medical mistakes, the detection of potential drug interactions, and improved maintenance of chronic conditions.