November 12, 2012
I would like to take this time in welcoming you to this presentation on communication marketing in health care. We will first be identifying different and most common communication used by consumers and health care providers, such as e-mail, a web-based forum, and/or electronic medical records just to name a few. We will also be discussing the benefits to the patients, an aspect relating to the values and importance of maintaining patient confidentiality when using these types of communication, some reasons that these types of communications are an effective way of communicating between consumers and their providers, how these types of communications may differ from others, and lastly, how might media and social networking change communication in health care today and years to come. Now, join with me as we discuss the different types and most common communication used by consumers and their health care providers.
Many communication channels are used in healthcare, each with different properties. These channels may be synchronous or asynchronous, mobile or fixed, secure or no secure. Because of this, participants must decide which channel best suits the issue about which they need to communicate. Synchronous channels such as telephones and face-‐to-‐face meetings allow both parties to communicate at the same time, enabling information to flow freely in real time. Synchronous channels are ideal when discussing time-‐sensitive issues and exchanging dense information. It is not always convenient, however, for a patient and physician to schedule time to communicate using synchronous channels because they can lead to delayed care, telephone tag, and frustration—when these channels fail to connect, some healthcare issues remain unaddressed. Yet, generally only pagers and synchronous communications are available for patient-‐physician communication.
Asynchronous channels such as email, fax, and blogs enable each party to communicate when it is convenient. These channels may be used safely for issues that are no urgent or time-‐sensitive. Because time is not a factor when using asynchronous channels, both patient and clinician can be more reflective in their messaging. Asynchronous channels, however, should not be used for medical emergencies or time-‐sensitive issues. Another characteristic of communication channels is whether they are fixed (connected to a wire) or mobile. Thanks to advances in technology, many communication channels that were once fixed are now wireless, such as telephones and text messaging. Presenting new technologies is challenging when dealing with an industry entrenched in using the same telephone, fax, and pager systems for decades. Many problems in healthcare stem from the industry clinging to these outdated methods of communication, without understanding the benefits brought about by newer solutions. For example, electronic pagers, which have been abandoned by most industries, are still the core device for hospital communications. While physicians extensively use a mobile core phone outside the hospital, these phones are often banned from being used inside, despite evidence that in most areas of the hospital this technology is safe. Email is often discouraged for clinical communication for security reasons, and more advanced technologies such as instant messaging, videoconferencing, group teleconferencing, or web-‐based collaboration are almost unheard of in clinical care—despite evidence that proves the effectiveness and safety of these technologies in healthcare. While physicians have found newer tools such as email useful, they are typically used only in limited situations and not commonly employed to communicate with patients. The reasons for physicians’ reluctance to use e-‐communication with patients include concerns about malpractice litigation, fears of being barraged with emails, and the absence of a model that reimburses them for consulting with patients electronically. Communication in healthcare fails for many reasons: necessary personnel cannot be identified or located; they may not be available or may not respond in a timely manner; or the communication channel of choice may not be well suited to the task at hand— for example, e-‐communication such as email should not be used for time-‐sensitive issues such as a patient having a heart attack, or in situations that require a dense exchange of information. Pagers, for instance, are more appropriate for time-‐sensitive issues, while telephones, in-‐person or videoconferencing meetings, or web-‐based collaboration tools are more efficient options for exchanging dense information, such as detailed case reports. Because case reports require much discussion among physicians, using email only slows down the discussion process.
With the ability to reduce costs, telemedicine has been shown to be such an effective medical practice in several instances that its growth and application in the health care industry have raised greatly. One of the reasons for patient satisfaction with telemedicine is a reduction in waiting time, travel time, and the time involved in arranging appointments. The absence of all these issues can facilitate health communication by eliminating many of the burdens involving in standard health care.
There also some challenges to the patient privacy with web-based communication just as in a facility. Because multiple individuals in telemedicine communication, exposure of confidential records to all parties concerned becomes a threat to the privacy of the patient. Additionally, even through medical doctors accept the obligation of maintaining their patients’ privacy rights, the other assisting parties involved in the telemedicine communication may not be held to the same standards (Turner, 2003). As a result of this risk to patients’ privacy rights, telemedicine has struggled to gain acceptance for the legal and medical communities (Sanders & Bashshur, 1995). However, again, as time progresses and this issue tackled by the medical and legal communities alike, solutions should be found to eliminate privacy risks to patients. Furthermore, these solutions should generate increased acceptance of telemedicine practices by all parties concerned and, likewise, should alleviate the fear and frequency of breached to patient privacy laws.
In conclusion to the communication marketing in health care, we were able to identify the different types of communication such as e-mails, web-based and medical records. We were able to point out some benefits and different aspects for the patients values and the importance in maintaining the patients confidentiality and the risks of safety in these types of communications. We were also able to understand the reasons as to how these types of communications are effective between the consumers and their providers and how they differ from other forms of communications as well. Thank you for your time and efforts in taking the time to better understand the communication through telemedicine present and future.