With so many methods of communication these days, it pays to ask. Most of us have a preferred favorite; some of us dodge use of one tool in favor of another. Just last night, at my youngest child’s “Back-to-School” night, (where parents get an abbreviated cycle through their child’s schedule), I marveled as one teacher after another stated: “the best way to reach me is e-mail.” Several teachers also indicated that they instructed students to e-mail them if they had questions or were stumped on homework.
Flash back ten years or so—same school system, different scenario. Parents begged teachers and school officials to allow e-mail as a form of communication. Telephone tag—even with the common use of cell phones was just too inconvenient. The initial response was one of doubt: “there is too much chance for misunderstanding with e-mail”, “what about the liability?”, “what if teachers were dealt an onslaught of e-mail messages to read daily?” and so on.
While it admittedly has taken time to transition to e-mail communication within the school community, they have closed the teacher-parent knowledge gap by adding an online (web-based) system that allows parents (and students!) to keep track of assignments, grades, tests and even e-mail their teacher. Great progress –and trust has resulted from this system. It allows for students, parents, and teachers to be a team, supporting and encouraging the best education possible. Let’s hope this same process will continue to occur in the health care world. It too, involves trust, communication—, and a willingness to work together for a shared goal.