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The Impact of Health Practitioners’ Use of Communication Technologies on Temporal Capital and Autonomy

eHealth: Current Evidence, Promises, Perils and Future Directions

ISBN: 978-1-78754-322-5, eISBN: 978-1-78754-321-8

ISSN: 2050-2060

Publication date: 6 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose: This chapter examines how healthcare technologies (electronic medical records, personal cell phones, and pagers) help manage patient care work to accelerate processes of communication and blur boundaries between work time and non-work time, thereby revealing dynamics of power as indicated through temporal capital, or the amount of time under an individual’s control.

Method: The data were collected from 35 in-depth semistructured interviews of health practitioners, which included 26 physicians, 7 nurses, and 2 administrators.

Findings: Communication technologies fulfill promises of temporal autonomy and efficiency, but not without cost, particularly as it intersects with organizational/institutional power structures and non-work-related social factors such as pre-existing technological literacy and proficiency. The blurring of work and non-work time gives practitioners perceived higher quality of life while also increasing temporal flexibility and autonomy. The higher up one is in the relevant hierarchy, the more control one has over one’s own time, resulting in higher levels of temporal capital. The power hierarchies serve to complicate the potential recuperation of temporal capital by communication technologies.

Implications: This study uses a critical cultural perspective that takes into consideration structures of institutional power hierarches impact temporal organization through the use of communication technologies by health practitioners. Practitioner-facing research is particularly crucial given the high rates of burnout within the profession and concerns around the well-being of health practitioners, and autonomy and control over one’s time is a factor in work and life satisfaction.

Keywords

Citation

Wang, C. (2018), "The Impact of Health Practitioners’ Use of Communication Technologies on Temporal Capital and Autonomy", Hale, T.M., Chou, W.-Y.S., Cotten, S.R. and Khilnani, A. (Ed.) eHealth: Current Evidence, Promises, Perils and Future Directions (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 93-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020180000015009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited