Prompt 8 (Blakeslee p. 125): Analyzing a document
Artifact: Article entitled “Hospital, doctors’ office kiosks increasingly used for collections” (found at http://www.fiercehealthfinance.com/story/hospital-doctors-office-kiosks-increasingly-used-colllections/2009-08-05)
Rhetorical analysis: This article is directed at health executives and financial managers and appears to be trying to convince these healthcare professionals that kiosks are a good idea not only because they let patients check into doctor’s offices on their own, but also because they can be used to facilitate faster payment to doctors’ offices. The article implicitly tells healthcare professionals that kiosks are the up-and-coming trend and that they should consider using them by listing the manufacturers who are now making kiosks.
Linguistic analysis: This article uses words with positive connotations to help readers associate kiosks–the technology that is being promoted–with a positive feeling. The article uses phrases like “smoother experience” and “fewer financial surprises” and “giving access” to indicate the benefit for the patients, “steady growth” to refer to the future for kiosks, and using metaphors like pushing forward to indicate that kiosks are representative of technological progress.
Thematic analysis: The basic theme of this piece, because it is directed at healthcare professionals, is increased revenue. In each paragraph, the author comes back to considerations of money as the anchor point for why kiosks should be implemented.
This brief analysis helped me see the benefits of thinking about all these lenses before embarking on a longer project. Although I am somewhat used to rhetorical analysis and am familiar with linguistic analysis, attention to thematic analysis could probably often help me step back and see the broader picture. In terms of my research, this article raises questions for me about the wisdom of always advocating whatever is new and seems easy. I’d like to learn more about how kiosks can benefit patients so that I can balance this against increased efficiency for physicians. In order to do this, I will need further information about what patients perceive to be the benefits of such technology. I believe I can get this further information from the study I am currently planning.
Prompt 5 (Blakeslee p. 113): Observing a setting
I am planning to use a general physicians’ waiting room as a site for my research. Other potential sites would include different types of waiting rooms, but I am limited to these lobby areas by the scope of my research. The general physician’s office, in particular, is advantageous because I am interested in studying people’s constructions of themselves as patients and examining my observations in relation to gender. The GP’s office, then, is least likely to inflict inherent bias depending on the special treatment patients might be seeking in other settings. This site does pose a challenge in regard to privacy concerns, which I discussed in a non-prompted post below.
I do not feel comfortable doing an observation of a waiting room without having first considered the privacy implications with the help of the IRB committee. I can, however, work based on my observations picked up as a patient myself. Based on the continuing flow of patients and the conspicuousness of someone writing in a waiting room, I suspect that I will use a traditional observation notebook for my research. A tape-recorded log is out of the question because of Illinois laws involving audio tapes; in-the-middle and after-the-fact notes are unnecessary. The two-notebook approach seems burdensome and conspicuous in this setting. Either a traditional or dialogic notebook might work; I favor the traditional because I believe it will help me to record as objectively as possible and reserve analysis for later.
Prompt 6 (Blakeslee p. 118): Looking at how others analyze artifacts
This response refers to:
Lawrence, D. “Cashing in on check-in: As hospitals face steeper challenges in collecting fees for service, bringin the revenue cycle to the kiosk may be an answer.” Healthcare informatics 27.1 (2010): 18, 20.
This prompt was difficult for me to respond to because I have so far been unable to find work in the genre I’ll be writing in on check-in kiosks. The article referenced above reads more like a newspaper or magazine report. Therefore, the texts used as artifacts in this article are primarily interviews with experts. It is also obvious that Lawrence has developed some familiarity with the technologies he discusses–kiosks and tablets–themselves. Lawrence relied on these sources because they were primary sources that did not require significant investments of his time, which is appropriate to the genre in which he is writing. Again adhering to genre, he largely refrained from personally analyzing them, but used expert testimony to frame these technologies in terms of revenue and legal precedent on billing patients for services. His discoveries from this analysis are as follows (verbatim from the article’s conclusion):
- Kiosks are expected to become more interactive in terms of the revenue cycle.
- Consent forms and way-finding are the more traditional uses of kiosks.
- The emergency room is an ideal place to use kiosk or tablet technology because of the long waits.
- Using tablets before a full kiosk implementation is a sound strategy.
No Prompt (extra entry): Update to research question and other details
The future audience for my proposal is scholars in my field. More specifically, I’ll be trying to reach scholars in technical communication and gender studies, rhetoric and composition. (While I envision someday producing products with a “general public” audience, I feel the need to establish myself in this way first.) My research question, at this moment, is: Does gender/sex affect the ways that people utilize automated check-in technologies in physicians’ offices? My method for answering this question, at least in its first iteration, is observation. I hope to sit in a lobby area and watch as people check in for appointments.
Prompt 2 (Blakeslee p. 105): Researching in Multiple Ways
Cairns, Kate, Johnston, Josee, and Baumann, Shyon. “Caring About Food: Doing Gender in the Foodie Kitchen.” Gender & Society 24.5 (2010): 591-615 . Print.
Cairns, Johnston, and Baumann conducted interviews with 30 subjects to examine how gender is constructed and perceived in foodie culture; they theorize their results in three categories: pleasure, care work, and knowledge/expertise. I would argue that they did use triangulation–although they do not explicitly address it–because they also surveyed literature in the field, including online literature such as the blogs of some of their participants. They also produced tables, which are the results of survey-style questions, that show demographic information for each of their 30 participants. This use of triangulation contributed a sense of accuracy. Rather than collecting one-time only written statements and analyzing what they happened to get, these researchers took the time to get to know their participants and understand those participants’ perceptions of foodie culture. One part of this article I found lacking was the dearth of attention to gender performance as an indicator of views on foodie culture. The article essentially examines the role of sex–that is, how women and men perceive and are perceived differently in this culture. However, several of the participants are listed as “partnered” rather than “married,” and I wonder how this distinction–presumably one of attention to gender roles–might have affected results.
No Prompt (extra entry): On problems presented by my setting
I am growing increasingly excited about the prospect of studying automated check-in systems at doctor’s offices. However, this subject also presents some problems that I need to work through because of the setting. I initially thought that working in a waiting room might reduce privacy concerns. However, I’m now thinking it actually heightens the problem. The waiting room is not really a public space. (In fact, the legal status of a waiting room would depend on the specific clinic.) Therefore, the increased freedom I was initially thinking would come from that sense of “public” is, I now believe, false. In addition, choosing the waiting room as a setting for observation severely decreases subjects’ abilities to opt out of my research, and it presents problems in terms of informing people that they are subjects in a research study. Informing them before they use the system would skew my results, and informing them afterword may not be possible. This would also mean I was approaching people in a vulnerable state–they’re sick, rushed, already handling something new … in other words, I see these people as a vulnerable population.
All things considered, I believe observation may not be the way to go with such a study. I’m now considering surveys or interviews as an alternative method, which presents the problem of picking a population to study.
I’ll keep thinking about it.
Prompt 8 (Blakeslee p. 52): Identifying a setting
The setting I am now considering for my research is a waiting room in a general physician’s office. I believe it is a good setting for my research question for a number of reasons, most specifically that it will allow me to observe communication in a medical setting with a minimal amount of privacy concern. Also, although I haven’t done the research to back this up yet, I suspect this may be an area that has not been much focused on previously, thereby creating a gap in available scholarship that I could help fill. (We’ll see how that pans out once I start doing research on this setting.) I do know that IRB and local permissions will still be major issues because of the medical setting.
Furthermore, I am now thinking about studying a new mechanized check-in system that has recently been put into place at my local doctor’s office. ISU’s clinic has had this system in place for a longer time, so these two sites might provide an interesting comparative study.
- Required approvals will include the university IRB and an administrator of a local waiting room/doctor’s office.
- These people will likely be concerned about patients’ rights to privacy. I hope to allay those concerns by explaining that I will be observing interactions only in the public space of the waiting room. I may also need to secure the permission of those I observe, though this would have to be done after the fact.
- Establishing good rapport could be done by letting these individuals know about ways they and patients stand to benefit from my research. As I don’t have the specifics of my research nailed down yet, I can’t discuss these well … but any research I do will have benefits for participants.
- My main obstacle will be negotiating privacy concerns. I will also have to learn on-the-job about the things I’m looking for. I’m quite sure this research will require at least one pilot study.
- Many of my responses to obstacles will have to be devised as obstacles come up. In advance, I can take steps to assure patient privacy and to minimize the effect I have on the environment as an observer.
Prompt 9 (Blakeslee p. 55): Thinking about lenses
- I gravitate toward approaches that favor thinking about social and cultural influences, and I’m especially interested in areas that are of current popular interest. In terms of approaches, then, methodologies that privilege ideas about ethics and sustainability are important to me.
- My personal beliefs and preferences are intimately tied up in my research. The United States currently faces what has been dubbed a healthcare crisis. As a professional reporter, I saw the personal effects of this crisis and resulting legislation firsthand. Also, as a graduate student, I get by on an insurance policy that is different from what most people have (or lack).
- My theoretical beliefs tend toward approaches that put egalitarian concerns first. For me, this means I’m interested in technology (and its posited democratizing effects) and feminism.
- I struggle to see my own biases, and I think qualitative research is important for this reason. I suspect I am biased in my search for places where gender is constructed in ways that are damaging to women. Honestly, I’m OK with this bias (which is perhaps a problem) because I see it as a natural reaction to a world that does the opposite. I am also biased in economic ways that sometimes embarrass me deeply. I know that I grew up economically privileged, but I also worked very hard to get where I am (as did my husband, who grew up in a very different context). I consider myself a fiscal conservative, which is certainly an anomaly in academia. This could definitely be construed as a bias.
Prompt 5 (Blakeslee p. 44): Completing a lit review
- Coverage of topic — what if I miss something important?
- How do I narrow my topic? I probably can’t read everything that has to do with gender and tech comm.
- What if Milner doesn’t have access to something important?
- What is the appropriate balance of sources? (eg, should I look mostly at books, or mostly at articles, since that’s what I’m looking at producing.)
- How do I find out if I’m reading the research in the same ways other people are?
How do I view myself in relation to the scholars whose work I’m reviewing? This depends on the scholar in question. Very often, I see the scholars I’m reading as beyond my reach. However, I’m aware that some emerging scholars in the field have done important studies that have been acknowledged, and I’ve been very encouraged by the community I’ve found, especially at the Computers & Writing Conference.
Prompt 6 (Blakeslee p. 44): Reviewing a journal
- Gender & Society; Deputy editors are Betsy Lucal (Indiana University) and Bandana Purkayastha (University of Connecticut); I’m reviewing the three most recent issues, which are October 2010, August 2010, and June 2010.
- Topics of articles in these three issues included: motherhood, family makeup in specific cultures, sexuality, economics and welfare, gendered labor, naming, reproductive practices, gendered activities in cultural locales.
- Gender & Society focuses on research reports, most of which are about 20 pages. The journal also publishes a significant number of book reviews.
- Most articles are examples of qualitative research. I would describe most of them also as ethnographic in nature.
- Nugent, Colleen. “Children’s Surnames, Moral Dilemmas: Accounting for the Predominance of Fathers’ Surnames for Children.” Gender & Society 24.4. (2010): 499-525. Print. Nugent uses an online content analysis methodology to examine the predominant cultural choice to give a child the father’s surname and how this practice results in “gendered differences in moral responsibility.” Nugent conducts her study by analyzing 600 comments from online forums on this topic and coding them based on information about the commenters. She examines the motivations of naming, but an obvious limitation is that all the people whose comments she used were aware of the importance of naming enough to be talking about it. Nugent says the practice of patrilineal naming results in the privilege of continuity of identity for men and the perception that families with only daughters “die out,” perhaps resulting in preference for sons. She also shows that this cultural practice is most common among white, “native,” affluent members of society, lending this practice legitimacy. Ultimately, Nugent says that women who want to take a stand against this hegemonic practice are faced with a moral dilemma of choosing between their own benefit and their family’s.