Rhetoric of Private Healthcare Offers Presented to SMEs over the Internet

Rhetoric of Private Healthcare Offers Presented to SMEs over the Internet

Jerzy Kisielnicki, Tomasz Ochinowski, Yu Ho Fang
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-670-4.ch026
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The chapter aims at determining through a rhetorical analysis the extent in which private medical services are offered to small and medium enterprises over the Internet. The multidisciplinary approach to e-health systems is stressed. Authors present a short description of contemporary changes in health care – client relation as well as the Internet influence on human activity, particularly focused on virtualization of SME and new challenges for medical practice and the medical services market. Rhetorical approach as research methodology is described at length. Subsequently, online offers of four international private medical companies are undergo analysis: two operating in Taiwan and two operating in Poland. Cases from countries of different culture, dissimilar health care systems, a different role of small and medium enterprises and a different level of technology and information systems have been chosen for comparison. The research shows how Internet offers reflect classical rhetorical structures and cultural diversity on the rhetorical level. Internet as e-health medium, from the rhetorical perspective, seems to be still used in very traditional, mainly profit-oriented way.
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The analysis of e-health systems requires a multidisciplinary approach in which various factors, including technological as well as psychosocial, should be discussed. A particular area of interest and the subject matter of this article stems from the following assumptions:

The Contemporary Challenges for Medical Practice

To be brief, the Internet significantly influences social relations and the sense of identity of not only individuals, but also the society in various aspects of their functioning. These changes concern also the health and illness issues forming new challenges for medical practice and the medical services market. According to Shilling (2002), for example, people are drawn to online medical information by, above all, the desire to free themselves from a sense of helplessness (strictly associated with illness, as indicated half a century ago by Talcott Parsons in his classical studies of this matter). The Internet is altering the approach to making use of these services, enabling at the same time to carry out a comparative analysis of both, offers of solving health problems and taking advantage of several specialists’ opinions, and verifying diagnosis and recommended treatments. Those and other factors are the reasons for which the patient seized to be just a “helpless layperson”-has taken the role of a “well-informed client”. The Internet has become a vital medium for the so called new medical pluralism, according to formulation suggested by Cant and Shrama (Shilling, 2002) pluralism, which also includes alternative medicine practices in e-space advancing to the rightful competitor of conventional medical services. Dworkin (2000) adds the significance of online “mutual aid communities” concerning health issues. According to this author, they constitute a response to the atmosphere of rush characteristic of the present patient-doctor relation. Last but not least, thanks to “the healthy lifestyle” movement, doctors, also online, act as experts on physical issues, but also as individual, in some way spiritual guides.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Society: It is a society which has the access and knows how to use: the ICT infrastructure, information resources and knowledge for the realization of collective and individual goals in an effective and economical manner.

Pathos: In classical rhetoric is “an artistic proof focuses on using the emotions as a supplement to a speaker’s other means of persuasion” (Zhu & Hildebrandt, 2002).

Virtualization of Human’s Activity: Differences which appear in many disciplines in case of using Internet.

New Medical Pluralism: According to Cant and Shrama, means possibility for nowadays patients to use variety medical services, together with Alternative Medicine. The main role in progress of A New Medical Pluralism is ascribed to the Internet.

Logos: “Originally occurs in philosophy, metaphysics, rhetoric and even religion, referring to the logical, rational, evidential underpinning of a speaker’s argument” (Zhu & Hildebrandt, 2002).

Ethos: In classical rhetoric “can mean the believability of the speaker, the credibility which the speaker brings to the speech situation. The speaker has to create his own credibility; he has to maintain a moral linkage between himself and his content, and should be considered a man of good character” (Zhu & Hildebrandt, 2002).

Rhetorical Analysis: The analysis of content and formal techniques of influencing the reader included in the analyzed texts (Internet offers in the arcticle), singled out according to the classical rhetorical findings, with the use of those findings in accordance with the methodology suggested by Billig for social studies and by McCloskey for economic texts.

Online “Mutual Aid Communities”: Virtual society which is made around problems combined with Heath Care (Dworkin).

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