3 Technology and practice
Technology has the power to transform expectations around practice. Service users and patients may expect their electronic health record to be correct and up-to-date and this implicitly requires practitioners to be able to engage with and use technology. But there will also be unexpected outcomes or results from the changing nature of professional roles. In the next activity, you will learn about this through the example of doctors in hospitals using instant messaging for work.
Activity 2 Instant messaging and care professionals
Read the following, which is an extract from an article: ‘Wanted: a WhatsApp alternative for clinicians’, about the using of digital messaging at work in healthcare settings. Then answer the following questions:
- How is WhatsApp already being used by Helgi Johannsson?
- What advantages does the article suggest that WhatsApp have over the conventional bleep system?
- What are the main concerns or limitations to WhatsApp?
- WhatsApp is used to ask an opinion, share results or get advice from a colleague, or to upload photos or information describing a patient's issue in order to get advice.
- In crises and emergencies, communicating via instant messaging can be useful. As an advantage, instant messaging allows you to communicate with many people or a whole team at once, rather than the old-fashioned pager that is commonly used in hospitals.
- You cannot control where information and data is stored. Some instant messaging services, such as WhatsApp, are based outside of the UK and do not need to store data in line with UK laws and regulations. For the clinician, traditional instant messaging may also constitute information overload and just add another layer of complexity to the job.
In this section, you have learned about how digital technology can change professional practice, but that may raise a number of issues and questions about what is appropriate and ethical.