A hospital may be well equipped technologically, but if there isn’t optimum communication with the patients, all those advances won’t be worth much. For communication to be more effective, it’s necessary to put into practice the art of knowing how to talk… And the art of knowing how to listen! But it seems that this teaching by the Stoic philosopher Epictetus of Phrygia is not in use. To prosper, we must be on the side of technology and its ability to gather and process data. But only when there is feedback. To this end, it’s necessary to have a dynamic receptor that listens and is listened to. One that cooperates in improving the discursive machine.
This type of active listening depends on very simple factors that sometimes evaporate in the process of so much disconnected connecting. Lewis Mumford predicted that any technology could produce a breach. He distinguished between two kinds of technology: the ‘democratic’ and the ‘authoritarian’. The first would include the advances that generate the tools that improve human nature. In the second would be found those that threaten people. But democratic technology, which is promoted by the Internet, sometimes turns authoritarian because, unfortunately, it’s still not within the reach of everyone.
One of the most important challenges posed by globalization is how to bridge the generational digital gap. Mark Zuckerberg, in a speech in May of 2017, said that it is not only necessary to create new jobs but also to renew the sense of collective purpose. And when speaking of the collective, we refer to everything as a whole, and not just to one of the parts.
Hospitals are places for interconnection and collecting data to be analyzed with the aim of preventing or curing sickness or future disease, but the problem, it seems, is that not all human beings count the same. A study published in 2017 by the Universitat Politècnica de València –Evaluating the Social Media Performance of Hospitals in Spain: A Longitudinal and Comparative Study– reveals that between 2011 and 2015 the presence of hospitals on the Web increased by more than 450%. That is a something very positive, but where does it leave our elders who do not have Twitter or Facebook? According to data from the National Statistics Institute (INI), in 2016 some 18.4% of Spain’s population was over the age of 65. Of this sector, only 35% used Internet. Are we leaving the remaining 65% out of the conversation? Shouldn’t we be taking care of everyone, without exclusion? There is great stress on what’s digital, but the physical world still exists, so let’s be sensible and responsible about the two dialectical areas: the physical and the virtual. And, above all, let’s take into account that repairing this damage is not just the work of health officials. It’s a task for everyone that should have begun a long time ago. It’s often said in medicine that it’s better to prevent than to cure. But now, unfortunately, because we didn’t take into account this new technological dialogue, the disease, if it is to be cured, is going to have to go immediately to the Emergency Room.