Have you ever had a conversation with a friend who was feeling down because of something that they won’t talk about? Maybe it was a bad investment, or an injured relative. Maybe your mutual friend began to treat them like they don’t exist, and neither of you know why. Regardless of what’s eating them, helping them out can be frustrating if all they answer your inquiries with is “I’m fine.” Communication is important in both friendship and medicine, especially when it can result in the well-being of the person who is ill (physically and/or emotionally.)
Digital Innovations for Communication in This Day and Age
In the modern age, communication in general is far more accessible and optimal than ever before, owing to the ubiquity of smartphones and the Internet. In fact, a few smartphone-specific innovations, such as mobile apps for medical professionals, have helped the field of healthcare in an indirect way. However, despite the omnipresence of various communication channels in the 21st century, pagers continue to be used by physicians, owing to the practicality of using a device unburdened by the frequent lack of cell service in hospitals.
More Than Numbers
Regardless of one’s preferred medium of conversation, intimate and meaningful conversation remains essential for the wellbeing of the modern individual. While electronic health records can reduce diagnosis to the inputting patient data, it is still important to maintain “bedside manner” when dealing with patients. This study discusses the importance of patient-physician communication at length.
Discussing one’s medical conditions can sometimes be discomforting or embarrassing. Human biology is messy, and talking about the ills and issues of one’s body can often feel like you’re undressing. The fear of humiliation and rejection can prevent proper diagnosis and reduce the quality of care a patient might receive. If a doctor can encourage their patients to be truthful and provide them with a safe environment to communicate their ills, then patient tendency to falsehood due to fears of judgement can decrease.
Communication and agency are two things that patients value in this day and age. Personal health records and control over one’s medical data can facilitate the latter, while the former has to be provided by physicians themselves.