Kumara Raja Sundar, MD, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente of Washington, uses two media synchronicity theory principles - conveyance and convergence - as a framework for choosing the right medium of care for his patients. In this essay, Sundar discusses how operating within this framework changed his own practice and decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the use of telemedicine versus in-person clinic visits. The theory of conveyance focuses on transmitting and processing diverse information to understand a situation. It requires time to analyze data, create patterns and make conclusions. Convergence focuses on discussing pre-processed information to achieve a mutual understanding of it. It often requires a rapid exchange of information to allow immediate feedback to test and verify each person's knowledge. Sundar writes that patients benefit from telehealth's convenience when they have access to the right technology but that they must have access to all care options. "We must guide patients towards the right care medium for them and in the correct order and use all of our tools efficiently and effectively," he adds. "It is the only way we will be able to achieve our mission of healing."
Virtual Care: Choosing the Right Tool, At the Right Time
Kumara Raja Sundar, MD
Kaiser Permanente of Washington, Burien, Washington
The Annals of Family Medicine