Sympathetic listening or steamrolling? Quality in the health professional-patient relationship in light of new information technology

In the services sector, the product of labor is not a commodity that can be traded easily. What is sold is a specialized service, basically through an exchange of information to meet the client's needs and expectations. What emerge are thus the social relations between individuals: professionals and clients/consumers. This article presents evidence that the introduction of information technology undermines the quality of the relationship between the health professional and the patient. The article begins by discussing concepts pertaining to quality in the health sector. The health professional-patient relationship is then discussed through a brief review of the health/disease concept and specifically the physician-patient relationship. Analysis of primary data shows some indication that technological, physical, and management changes in health care units are undermining the quality of health care: many technological changes, but few operational changes, and many machines, but few professionals to treat patients.

Quality of Health Care; Health Services; Technology

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