Short message service or disService: issues with text messaging in a complex medical environment.
Int J Med Inform. 2014 Apr;83(4):278-84
Authors: Wu R, Appel L, Morra D, Lo V, Kitto S, Quan S
BACKGROUND: Hospitals today are experiencing major changes in their clinical communication workflows as conventional numeric paging and face-to-face verbal conversations are being replaced by computer mediated communication systems. In this paper, we highlight the importance of understanding this transition and discuss some of the impacts that may emerge when verbal clinical conversations are replaced by short text messages.
METHODS: In-depth interviews (n=108) and non-participatory observation sessions (n=260h) were conducted on the General Internal Medicine wards at five academic teaching hospitals in Toronto, Canada.
RESULTS: From our analysis of the qualitative data, we identified two major themes. De-contextualization of complex issues led to an increase in misinterpretation and an increase in back and forth messaging for clarification. Depersonalization of communication was due to less verbal conversations and face-to-face interactions and led to a negative impact on work relationships.
CONCLUSIONS: Text-based communication in hospital settings led to the oversimplification of messages and the depersonalization of communication. It is important to recognize and understand these unintended consequences of new technology to avoid the negative impacts to patient care and work relationships.
PMID: 24495802 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]