Thursday, 25 September 2014

Shall we speak, or...?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

The first computer in the hospital where I was a Charge Nurse was the one I took in with me on night duty. I unloaded my excellent (in my view unsurpassed as a dedicated word-processing tool) Amstrad PCW from the car and set it up at the nurses' station where, between my nursing duties, I would write manuscripts and I even developed a program using the programming language Mallard for PCW which calculated cost-effectiveness data in the clinical trial I was running. Well, those were the days! My computer was not linked up to anything or anyone and I was viewed as some kind of technological wizard, mainly eccentric, who was engaged in something that would probably 'never catch on'.

Fast forward approximately 25 years and every clinical area and office in my GP surgery, the local hospitals and anywhere healthcare is delivered is festooned with electronic equipment. A Finnish study entitled The use of electronic devices for communication with colleagues and other health professionals - nursing professionals' perspectives by Koivunen et al. (2014) and published in JAN looks at how nurses experience the use of electronic devices for professional communication. The study involved 123 Finnish nurses and found that a variety of electronic means of communication was used with email being the most popular. Synchronous communication - Skype, FaceTime - was used very little. While the nurses found the use of electronic devices useful and efficient, concerns remained about security of information. However, some were concerned about the lack of social interaction and, I guess, it will be a sad day if electronic communication replaces such interaction in a profession which aims to be person-centred and caring.


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