Communication can be defined as “a two-way process of reaching a mutual understanding, in which the participants exchange information, news, ideas, and feelings about a specific topic,” according to Business Dictionary. Healthcare professionals depend on communication. For example, there is communication between the nurse and patient, amongst healthcare professionals, and communication with the general public. These different types of communication have existed in the healthcare field prior to the first computer in the late 1960's. In today's society, healthcare professionals can use computers that are connected on a worldwide network to communicate.
Networks can have different range connections. The different variations in network sizes or the number or location of the computers connected is stated in the local area network. The LAN is a specific network used when the computers are physically close to each other. The wide area network is used when the connections are farther away. WANs connect all
computer networks throughout an entire organization. (Sewell and Thede 56.) Several healthcare organizations that span across numerous nations use WANs.
The different networks are connected with the use of wires, radio waves, phones lines, etc. In most healthcare facilities, wireless internet connections are used. Wireless transmissions are very limited in the distance; therefore, they do not compete with radio traffic. During the installation of wireless networks, nodes are placed strategically throughout the building. The nodes pick up signals, and send them to central servers. The distance between the node and device will affect the speed of transmission, as well as the availability of the network.( Sewell
and Thede 57.) Although wireless networks are used in several healthcare settings, they are less secure than wired transmissions because anyone can use the network. However, security measures can be implemented through the network administrator. The main goal of wired equivalent privacy is used in several places to prevent the disclosure of messages while in transit. The WEP requires users to enter a password before being allowed to connect. Once a person connects to the WEP the device will automatically remember the key and connect when it is in range of the node. (Sewell and Thede 57.) These connections allow for communication whether it be near or far; therefore, distance is not an obstacle for networks.
The aforementioned types of networks allow for communication and the exchange of information to be transmitted through various media platforms. Media platforms are used to handle media resources such as voice, image, audio, and video. Such media platforms have changed the way society communicates. These media platforms have been allotted the term “social media,” which refers to how people interact and what or how “they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks (Tufts University, Office of Communications and Marketing 2016). Social media includes, but is not limited to, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, and Youtube.
These media platforms have stirred controversy since the introduction of social media (circa early 2000s). The controversy centers around the benefits and disadvantages social media has to offer society. The excessive use of these platforms has led to discussions on if these platforms have changed the way society interacts and communicates.
One can assume that communication via the internet can cripple physical human interaction, but there are also positives to Social Media. For example, a study was conducted at King Abdulaziz University which aimed at investigating the students' perceptions of social media as a learning tool (Al-Sharqi & Hashim 2016). Studies indicated that a majority of the University students used social media in their learning and wanted the University to do the same in terms of teaching the students.
The desire to communicate faster and more efficiently through different mediums has driven the world of technology to new places in a very short time. In fact, as technology continues to advance, people are in a constant state of learning and relearning how to communicate with others. It has gotten to the point where people are expecting these fast-paced changes with new technology and quickly getting bored and frustrated with being present in a real-time situation. “As communication technologies emerge, different patterns of social behavior are expected to emerge” as stated in Sociological Perspectives, predicting the changes that technology might have on society by changing the actual behaviors of people as a whole.
Today, it is expected that the devices used for communication be as efficient as possible
so that people can use their phones, tablets, computers and other devices to communicate with
others through the internet on various forms of social media, email, texts, or video chats. As a
result of technology growing, people have taken more interest in technology as well as the
sciences which has a great benefit in continuing to make improvements in society by getting a
larger mass of individuals involved. Through social media communication, it is easy to inform
others of events, issues, and new information that could be beneficial in all fields. However, as
these changes have brought people together through social media, they have also separated
families and friends in their personal relationships. Two interesting points made in Sociological
Perspectives include “1. Individuals are continuously engaged in acquiring and communicating
information … 2. An individual's behavior is a function of his or her current knowledge.” With
information being on the tips of everyone's fingers it has grown difficult for others to sit and
have face to face communication without the use of devices to gain more information and
present it to those around them. This affects personal relationships in that they are no longer
about the individuals and their history together, but about sharing information about others
through social media and expounding on it. So even though these forms of communication have
brought people together in society, they have also created a rift between people so that they are
no longer as close and personable.
However, rapid communication via the internet in the healthcare setting has positively changed the world of healthcare drastically over the last few decades as technology continues to innovate--one example being the client/server architecture. A client/server architecture can be described as “a client computer with software that allows it to request and receive information from the server” (Sewell and Thede, 56). With this application, many health care providers have gone above and beyond to use informatics not only for their benefit, but for the accessibility and convenience of their patients as well. Clients now have instant access to personal health records, lab results, renew prescriptions, make or cancel appointments, or simply make inquiries to their physician all without ever having to physically step foot into their medical facility. This provides great advantage for clients who are working, enrolled in school, have children, or involved in any other daily activity limiting their amount of free time.
While there are countless benefits to the rapid integration of technology into healthcare systems, these new developments also come with some downfalls. For one, technology is only as effective as the people and providers operating it. While it is believed that the use of computers, machinery and technology lowers the risk of inaccuracy, the possibility of human error in these interactions usually remains unaccounted for. Improper input from human healthcare providers renders powerful, advanced technology useless, as the technology may not have the ability to detect or correct the error. This poses a potentially harmful issue in terms of patient care.
In addition, advancing technology can create an overdependence on said technology.
Care delivery becomes inextricably dependent on IT; system failures wreak havoc when paper backup systems are eliminated. Physicians dependent on CPOE [computerized physician order entry] sometimes rely on decision support for real-time information & error prevention. When they transfer to settings without CPOE, they may have trouble remembering standard dosages, formulary recommendations, & medication contraindications (Harrison, Koppel, & Bar-Lev, 2007).
As Harrison, Koppel, and Bar-Lev stated, in institutions where paper methods of recording patient information have been eliminated, care may be drastically compromised when there are system failures or electronic outages. Because of this, however convenient it may be, it is important to not rely solely on technology for information storage and retrieval.
As technology continues to expand and open numerous venues for communication, society will continue to take optimum advantage of the resources rapid communication provides.
The sharing and retrieval of knowledge via internet applications and social media has become a “norm” in our society in which we continuously learn new ways to network with others. Though outcomes of excessive or inappropriate internet use have the potential to become detrimental in some cases, the amount of enlightenment the internet has to offer society greatly surpasses its downfalls. In the healthcare setting, growth in communications via internet promote client/provider efficiency as well as give way for providers globally to connect with one another for the advancement of healthcare and society as a whole.
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