Improving Computer-Mediated Synchronous Communication of Doctors in Rural Communities Through Cloud Computing: A Case Study of Rural Hospitals in South Africa

Alfred Coleman
2012 International Journal of Computer Science & Information Technology (IJCSIT)  
This paper investigated how doctors in remote rural hospitals in South Africa use computer-mediated tool to communicate with experienced and specialist doctors for professional advice to improve on their clinical practices. A case study approach was used. Ten doctors were purposively selected from ten hospitals in the North West Province. Data was collected using semi-structured open ended interview questions. The interviewees were asked to tell in their own words the average number of patients
more » ... served per week, processes used in consultation with other doctors, communication practices using computer-mediated tool, transmission speed of the computer-mediated tool and satisfaction in using the computer-mediated communication tool. The findings revealed that an average of 15 consultations per doctor to a specialist doctor per week was done through face to face or through telephone conversation instead of using a computer-mediated tool. Participants cited reasons for not using computer-mediated tool for communication due to slow transmission speed of the Internet and regular down turn of the Internet connectivity, constant electricity power outages and lack of e-health application software to support real time computer-mediated communication. The results led to the recommendation of a hybrid cloud computing architecture for improving communication between doctors in hospitals. LITERATURE AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Synchronous communication is direct communication where the communicators are present at the same time. This includes, but is not limited to, a telephone conversation, a company board meeting, a chat room event and instant messaging. Synchronicity exists among individuals when they exhibit a shared pattern of coordinated synchronous behaviour with a common focus [6] . Asynchronous communication on the other hand, does not require all parties involved in the communication to be present at the same time. Asynchronous computer-mediated communication is limited to communication where a network infrastructure capability of sustaining real time media connection is not cost-effective [7] .Asynchronous remote communication systems can be divided into the following: message, storage and discussioncentric systems. Message-centric systems are those which function like e-mails [8] . It enables doctors to send questions to specialist doctors and receive replies. They are easy to use but lack content management features that are useful to establish a community of communicators. Storagecentric systems are like Web or message-based picture archive communication systems that are often used in teleradiology [9] . It adds basic search and storage capabilities. Discussion-centric systems implement the functionality of a typical Web-based bulletin-board system (incorporating messaging, discussion, and image storage facilities) which allows for two way communication. This paper, therefore, positions asynchronous computer-mediated communication between storage and discussion-centric system. Recent research on communication has focused on Media Synchronicity Theory (MST) which is propounded by [10] . MST is defined as the extent to which the capabilities of a communication medium enable individuals to achieve synchronicity [11] .Synchronicity is a state in which individuals work together at the same time with common focus [10] . MST marches media capabilities to the relevant communication processes and can therefore be used to study communication performance [10] .MST suggests that supporting media should fit two
doi:10.5121/ijcsit.2012.4502 fatcat:nss3i67lxngwhay2iwqebcduvi