Technology changes…I guess I should too…

It is an interesting thing to read a book which upholds your job as being technologically backward. I currently work as a Health Information Specialist at a large local hospital, so I laughed a bit when I read the introduction in Spilka’a Digital Literacy for Technical Communication. I have watched as my department has struggled to move forward technologically, moving from a mostly paper-based system to a mostly electronic system. Consequently, I understand better than most what it is like to adapt to new technology on a professional and corporate level.  I have gotten to see a complete overhaul of our technology over just a couple of years. So it makes it interesting to consider how drastically technology has affected and changed technical communication over the years.

Even though I do like technology and social media, I have largely seen it as a waste of time. But, when I consider the improvement that technology has made in my job, I can start to agree more with Qualman’s position in Socialnomics that technology (specifically social media) makes us more efficient. While I believe that social media can absolutely be a great waste of time, it can also benefit us. There are certainly things that social media can streamline. For example, this summer when I needed to move, I just asked for volunteers on facebook and ten people volunteered, many of whom were not people that I would have thought that I could ask for help.  Had it been necessary for me to email people or ask personally, I would have probably had one or two people to help.

I have never experienced social media being quite as marvelously helpful as Qualman portrayed it, but perhaps that would come if I gave in and fully assimilated into the culture by getting a smart phone and actually tried to engage. Instead, I just add a fourth option to Qualman’s list of things to do in a checkout line…I carry a book everywhere and can usually rock out a chapter or two before I get to the cashier. It is a kindle now, so at least I can pretend that I am not that old fashioned. However, while I have never experienced the connectivity that Qualman demonstrates, apparently social media has been helping me in ways I never even knew.

I never knew that social media informed search engines so much. Nor have I considered how it has changed people’s search habits. It never occurred to me to look up a facebook page before going to a company’s website. But I think that is symptomatic of the same urge that has me reading in the checkout lane. I want the most information I can get at one time and generally the website will have what I need.

However, I think that Qualman is right that information finds us these days. I may not go searching for an article to read, but I will often read what pops up in my newsfeed as being recommended by a good friend. So, even if my habits are a little old-fashioned, it is funny to think that I, like the healthcare industry, am being propelled forward technologically, even if it is slightly against my will.

Posted on September 29, 2013, in mobile, Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. It’s great to hear your perspective on how technology has impacted healthcare. I also work in healthcare and I’ve seen many of my clients (some are hospital-based, but most are private practices) go through the pains of implementing EHR/EMR. With all of the changes in healthcare, insurance and “meaningful use” right now, many of my clients are being forced into this change and are less than positive due to the expense and time invested. However, I do have several early adopters that, although they have embraced technology, still experienced a lot of transitional pain. One clinic in particular implemented EMR over ten years ago, but it wasn’t until about three years ago that all of their physicians were actually using it.

    You commented about looking for a company’s Facebook page before looking for a website. I am seeing more and more of my clients not even bother creating a website (again, due to cost and time). I am not entirely sure if this is a good trend but it at least allows them to have a presence online which is important as a huge portion of consumers now turn to the web to help them make their healthcare decisions.

    • Yeah, the whole process is crazy and it is very difficult to implement new processes. I think what really helped us is that the change was supported on an organizational level. After years of trying to convince the physicians that the electronic medical record was a good thing, the administration finally just took away the option of anything else and forced them to adapt. It was and continues to be a difficult process for everyone, no matter how tech savvy they are. Change is just rough on people.

  2. What is your impression of the impact of the new technology and electronic systems on the healthcare field once they are implemented? For sure, it takes a significant investment of time and money at the beginning, but theoretically it should save a lot of time and money down the road. So far in your hospital, do you think the switch to electronic systems is paying off?

    In my own experience with doctors offices and hospitals, the electronic systems seem to be well worth the investment. My doctors can see each others notes, see my upcoming appointments with other doctors, all view the same lab results (which helps me avoid me repeating tests that another doctor already did), and view my medications in one centralized place. In addition, the doctors also seem to feel better equipped to deal with cases now that they have all of these records more accessible and at their disposal.

    • Honestly, I miss the days of paper charts. But,an electronic medical record streamlines the process and it is better for patients. It reduces costs in paper, manpower, transportation, space, and more. It is a good thing. We still have areas where we are still relying on paper and it is obvious the difference.

  3. evelynmartens13

    I think you bring a truly authentic voice to this discussion — ” I have never experienced social media being quite as marvelously helpful as Qualman portrayed it, but perhaps that would come if I gave in and fully assimilated into the culture by getting a smart phone and actually tried to engage.”

    I also think your experience in the health care field (rather than “industry”) is important. Health care is often routine, but when it’s not, it’s pretty personal and urgent, and people want to connect with other “people,” even if they do so through technological methods.

    I would guess that that is your challenge – retaining your personal, “authentic” voice for people in whatever role you serve while at the same time adapting to new technological methods in serving, you know, “people” (rather than technology).

    I know that is what I want from people in a health care situation — routine or crisis –I want someone who knows there is a person at the other end of an electronic inquiry. In my experience, most people in health care are managing the transition pretty well.

    So, on a different subject, what might pop up in your newsfeed that might make you seek out other info? I’m curious because I’m learning.

    Nice post!

  4. What a great idea that technology is propelling your forward even if it is slightly against your will. I really enjoyed your post. My mom works in the healthcare industry, too, and she has made similar mention to how technology has so drastically changed her life. She has been working for over 20 years as a nurse, and recently she went into case management as it relates to quality and service. Her use of technology in her field has continually adapted with both time and positions. Therefore, I really appreciated your real-world perspective here from your experience.

    You also made me laugh when you noted that you carried a book everywhere (me too!), and I have finally adjusted to reading on my Kindle, but I still love my actual books. I find them hard to release. Just the very nature of carrying a book appeals to me. I love a pocket book (even better in a nice pocketbook.)

    And this idea of social media helping us in ways we never even knew or expected also drew me in during this week’s readings. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the train of thought that social media does not do anything for us but waste time, but I find I do use social media for all kinds of reasons, and some turn out more helpful than I thought like your instance of needing assistance while moving. Last year, I used Facebook to provide the details of my son’s birthday party to my family and friends. I was so tardy in sending my old fashioned invites that I filled one out, took a picture of the front and inside, and posted it for them. I knew only my family and friends were coming, so then I told them when I saw them to check out the invite on Facebook. It worked!


    • I am with you on the actual books, because frankly a kindle doesn’t smell the same, or function quite the same as the real thing. But it sure is handy!

      Your mom is right about how the change in technology has made huge changes, as I think it always does.

  5. Nice nod to smartphones and how the mobile revolution encouraging us to post even more. I’ve noticed when friends who never posted much on FB get a phone, suddenly they are online ALL the time.

    Your final point about reading what people in your feed recommend is echoed in this interview with Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook:,32068,711047870001_2037225,00.html

  6. You aren’t the only one who has mentioned social media being a waste of time but I think there are so many things out there that are a waste of time – like watching TV. I have a husband who likes the dumbest shows (Duck Dynasty, Pickers, Ice Road Truckers, etc) but always wants me to “watch” with him. Social media is my saving grace during those times! I can be with him and do my own thing on FB or whatever website. I would go crazy if I didn’t have social media to fall back on during those times! I guess it is all relative – whatever you like to do in your down time isn’t really a waste of time, it is more if you are checking it instead of doing more productive things (like working or homework) that you can call it a waste of time.

  7. I like you example of having to move over the summer and posting on Facebook asking for help and getting it from people you never would have thought to ask. I have done that on occasion, posted something on Facebook and not expecting a response at all, let alone from some of the people who did respond. I find I like this way of keeping up to date with friends and family..

    I can also relate to Jennifer’s comment about needing social media, but I am usually on the other end. My husband will play on facebook or some other game on his iPhone while we “watch” tv together.

  8. smitht09052013

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who is resistant to change. I use Facebook, but I’m really partial to forums over more modern forms of social media. Perhaps I like the slower pace that things are moving at.

    Just last night, I was reminded how people use Facebook. I updated my profile picture with a new picture of my daughter and I. Within the first 20 seconds, it had already been liked by one person. Within a minute, it had been liked by 4 more people. When I woke up in the morning, there were 31 likes and 1 comment. Social media is a great way to share information quickly with a lot of people, but I frequently just don’t want to share anything. Luckily for social media sites, I’m probably not their typical user.

    From my limited experience, large companies are often very resistant to change. This is partly due to cost, and partly due to them having a lot of moving pieces that have to change more or less at the same time. The company I work for is finally updating the operating system from XP to Windows 7. They were motivated to upgrade because Microsoft informed them that they would no longer be supporting XP anymore, since it was about 12 years old.

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