Learning from Errors in Digital Patient Communication

The NEGATE project, in cooperation with Danish and German colleagues, investigates the learning process of professionals from errors related to digital patient communication in public health services in Denmark.

The research data consisted of participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and document data. Inductive coding and a theoretically informed generation of themes were applied. The results showed that both healthcare and digital communication professionals learn through experience about both “rule-based” and “knowledge-based” digital errors. The key result was that professionals used negative knowledge when learning from errors, i.e., “what not to do” and “what is not (yet) known”. In addition, it was found that awareness of one’s own ignorance in digitalization is important in identifying the needs for new information. This was called “digital ignorance” in the study.

In their joint efforts, professionals used negative knowledge to “bend the rules” and to explore digital ignorance in efforts to improve patient communication. The study provides insight into the importance of collaboration between professionals with varying experience of digitalizing patient communication. This is required to acknowledge own shortcomings and create complementary negative knowledge to manage errors and improve digital patient communication. This is particularly important when working with innovative digitalization in healthcare.

Jensen, R.A.A., Jonasson, C., Gartmeier, M. and Parviainen, J. (2023) “Learning from errors in digital patient communication: professionals’ enactment of negative knowledge and digital ignorance in the workplace”, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-12-2022-0177