Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-7-2021


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Craig T. Maier

Committee Member

Erik Garrett

Committee Member

Anthony M. Wachs


technology, health care, patient-centered care, communication ethics, nursing, COVID-19, pandemic, patient-provider communication, patient autonomy, telehealth


Written in a historical moment marked in many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it has wrought, including the increased availability and use of telehealth services, this project attempts to consider the implications of the continued integration of technology into health care, centering on the following essential question: How do technological changes affect the contemporary practice of healthcare communication, particularly that which occurs between the patient—the consumer of health care—and their provider? This dissertation thus considers the ways in which such linkages of technology and health care seem to fit into a larger shift within health care that has occurred over recent decades: the move away from a paternalistic model of health care to one that is more patient-centered and respectful of the autonomy of the individual patient. As is argued throughout—drawing from literature ranging from the role of technology in health care to patient–provider communication, and from social justice issues within health care to communication ethics—technology offers considerable promise for the healthcare setting, in that it is helping to empower patients and providers alike, as well as potentially democratizing health care itself. At the heart of this is the communication that transpires during the patient–provider encounter and in the context of this healthcare relationship.