By Grant Webb
Many people don’t automatically think of the human element when they think of technology, but people and technology can’t help but influence each other. This mutual influence, which forms the basis of the field of social informatics, can be seen in the way that we use technology and the way that technology shapes our daily lives. Social informatics involves the study of information and communication tools in cultural or institutional contexts. Specifically, it examines the social aspects of computerization and its role in social and organizational change as well as how social practices influence information technology.
One of the most important contexts for social informatics is healthcare. Historically, healthcare has been a paper-intensive industry as practitioners kept printed copies of patient records and created written orders for tests and medications. Perhaps due to habit or possibly due to mistrust or unfamiliarity with computers, many healthcare professionals continued to rely on paper-based systems long after computerization gained wide acceptance and usage within the field.
One significant problem with paper-based systems is the lack of consistency in how records are filled out and maintained and how long they are stored. Individual doctors, nurses and other providers often have their own way in which they record notes and update patient records, even those who hold the same job title within the same institution. Thus, records differ from doctor to doctor, nurse to nurse and facility to facility, which introduces inconsistency and fosters miscommunication. These differences can also lead to a variety of errors that can negatively affect patients.
In addition to the differences in the ways that individuals keep records, manual record-keeping typically introduces a significant amount of human error, which also increases medical errors. Medical errors can range from relatively minor impacts, such as ordering unneeded diagnostic tests, to major impacts that can put a patient’s life at risk. At the point in which a provider’s personal social informatics habits, as related to patient record-keeping, conflict with those of other providers, paper-based systems then become detrimental to patients’ wellbeing. Discrepancies inherent in paper systems can also inhibit information sharing, collaboration and the expansion of collective knowledge.
As a result of various medical errors over the years, the Federal government has mandated that healthcare providers implement electronic health records by January of 2014. This mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, represents a drastic change for the healthcare field in an effort to reduce medical errors and streamline healthcare delivery and has increased the breadth of health informatics job offerings as a result. The electronic health record requirement has prompted many healthcare providers to abandon social informatics based on manual record keeping. In turn, this increasing implementation of electronic health records has led to the rapid expansion of health informatics.
Health informatics combines information technology, health science information and patient data to enhance and support clinical care, health services, administration, research and education while helping to contain costs and increase efficiency. Health informatics relies heavily on healthcare information technologies, such as electronic health records, computerized physician order entry and decision support systems but the implementation of these technologies is only as good as the people who use them. Management, clinicians and health information technology staff often assume that healthcare information technologies will deliver the results promised by vendors. As a result, they may unintentionally overlook the impact of interactions between new technologies and the existing sociotechnical environment. In the same manner, those who take for granted that technology will improve things may underestimate the contributions of clinical judgment and interaction with patients.
Healthcare providers are often quick to blame undesirable consequences and implementation failures on new technology. In reality, although technical issues are sometimes at the root of the problem, negative outcomes of healthcare information technology more often stem from the providers themselves due to differences between the new technology and the existing social and technical systems.
Health informatics can help pinpoint changes needed to existing social informatics such as workflows, culture and technology, to minimize negative outcomes and maximize the benefits of healthcare information technology. These benefits include improved patient safety, increased positive patient outcomes and greater levels of efficiency.
Grant Webb is an SEO Specialist at Bisk Education
The 13th Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)
October 18-21, 2012
MediaCity:UK – University of Salford
Salford – Greater Manchester – UK
Internet Research 13.0 will focus on the theme of technologies, understood in the broadest sense as crafts, techniques, and systems. The conference will examine the place of the Internet in the contemporary world and in relation to a range of existing and emerging technologies, considering its impact in a context where life is entangled with technologies of all kinds as never before. The conference will bring together scholars, researchers, students and practitioners from many disciplines to map and situate the development of the Internet as part of the history of human technology. To this end, we call for papers, panel and pre-conference workshop proposals from any discipline, methodology, community or a combination of them that address the conference themes, including, but not limited to, papers that intersect and/or interconnect with the following:
- the speed and acceleration of technological change
- the past, present and future of technology
- emerging and converging technologies
- educational technology
- cultures of crafting
- connectivity and access
- space, location and mobile technologies
- technology, networks and attachments
- technology and the body
- technologies of the self
- technology, regulation and ethics
Sessions at the conference will be established that specifically address the conference themes, and we welcome innovative, exciting, and unexpected takes on those themes. We also welcome submissions on topics that address social, cultural, political, legal, aesthetic, economic, and/or philosophical aspects of the internet beyond the conference themes. In all cases, we welcome disciplinary and interdisciplinary submissions as well as international collaborations from both AoIR and non-AoIR members.
- Submissions Due: 1 March 2012 (Papers, Panels and Pre-Workshops. Details below.) NOTE: The submission deadline is a HARD DEADLINE; there will be NO extensions to this date.
- Notification: 1 May 2012
- Full Papers Submissions Due for inclusion in Selected Papers of IR: 1 July 2012
- Ignite-IR Final Proposal Deadline: 1 August 2012
- Ignite-IR Slides Due: 15 September 2012
Social Media/Social Computing Research
Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media
Michigan State University
The Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media (TISM) at Michigan State University invites applications for a tenure stream faculty position in the area of social media/social computing at either the assistant or associate professor level. We seek a scholar whose research addresses social media and/or social computing practices, applications, or effects. An interest in mobile applications of social media is desirable. Teaching duties will include graduate and undergraduate courses in information and communication technologies and social media. The ability to teach courses in research methods, interactive media design, and/or human computer interaction is also desired.
Successful assistant professor candidates will have peer-reviewed works to their credit and demonstrate promise of obtaining external funding to support their research. Associate professor candidates will have a track record of successful grant seeking and have averaged two peer-reviewed publications per year over several years. We encourage individuals from a diverse range of disciplinary and methodological traditions to apply. A PhD in a relevant discipline should be completed prior to the start of the appointment, expected to be August of 2012.
The TISM department is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary faculty internationally renowned for their cutting-edge research on the uses and implications of information and communication technologies. Our curricula address both the theoretical and practical aspects of media use, and our alumni have achieved positions of prominence in industry, government, and academia. Projects involving cross-disciplinary teams are actively pursued and encouraged. Current research foci of the department include social media, human computer interaction, digital games, ICT for development, e-commerce, communication economics and policy, the adoption and impacts of new media, and content design.
Please direct any questions to Professor Nicole Ellison, Search Committee Chair, Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies & Media at Michigan State University, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply, please refer to Posting 5233 and complete an electronic submission at the Michigan State University Employment Opportunities website https://jobs.msu.edu. Applicants should submit electronically the following materials: (1) a cover letter summarizing your qualifications for the position, (2) a current vita, and (3) the names and contact information for three individuals willing to serve as recommenders, who may be contacted by the search committee. The search committee will begin considering applications November 1, 2011. The search closes when a suitable candidate is hired. Duties begin on August 16, 2012. An earlier appointment is possible.
MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and persons with disabilities.
The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) at Indiana University Bloomington is accepting faculty applications for a position at any level in Social Informatics (SI), defined as the field of study that seeks to understand how the computational sciences and digital technologies shape society and human experience, and how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology.
We are especially interested in senior applicants who are internationally recognized leaders in SI and can help us develop the program further by building on our existing strengths in social studies of computing, in which they should have a strong research and teaching profile.
The successful senior candidate should also have interest in at least one additional area of social informatics in which we are active (organizational informatics, social media and Internet research, policy, or social computing). We are also interested in junior applicants who can move the social studies of computing in new directions to take it beyond analytical critique and toward the design and development of new technologies.
The position will begin in Fall 2012. Additional information on the SoIC and Bloomington, and application requirements and submission instructions, are available at http://hiring.soic.indiana.edu/.
To receive full consideration applications must be received by November 15, 2011. Inquiries can be directed to John Paolillo (Assoc. Prof. Informatics), SI Search Committee chair (email@example.com)
Hello and Welcome!
The Social Informatics Blog was born from a series intense discussions between PhD students from various departments and schools of Indiana University, researchers with an interest in Social Informatics. The hope of the blog is to show interested scholars and those who stumble across this site what we do and study in Social Informatics (SI), a new and evolving area of study at the intersections of technology, information, and media as well as countless other paths of research.
Instead of simply “advertising” about SI and show the work that has been already done by those who have come before, we see the Social Informatics Blog as meeting place to share our own studies and ideas with society, so anyone can participate by sending any sort of feedback. It’s an ongoing conversation, and we hope you take part, too.
Every week, there will be at least one study / idea posted on the Blog, and everyone else is invited to join in by sending their comments, thoughts, and ideas. We will also announce conferences, call for papers, workshops and so on that address themes related to Social Informatics.
For scholars and interested readers, the SIBlog has a special section: Related Bibliography, where we will be adding relevant publications as our interests evolve. You may also suggest unlisted papers, books, and articles that you’ve found useful in the field.
Take a moment to get to know the authors, and thanks for stopping by!