E-Health and the Digitization of Health

Karolin Eva Kappler (2022)

In Rainer Diaz-Bone & Guillemette de Larquier (eds.), Handbook of economics and sociology of conventions. Cham: Springer, Online first

In recent years, the digitization of health has spread widely and inspired an increasing number of publications based on Economics and Sociology of Conventions (EC/SC). Telemedicine, e-health, digital health, smart health, big data, and robotics are just some of the buzzwords and concepts under which this development is observed and discussed. The present article gives an overview of theoretical and empirical research about the role of digital technologies in health and the dynamics of datafication and valorization of health from an EC/SC perspective. EC/SC and its theoretical concepts – such as intermediaries, investment in form, and the statistical chain – provide a range of useful tools to study digital health technologies and practices. This pragmatic perspective focuses on situations and intersections of collective and individual logics of coordination, offering new insights into emerging and ongoing conflicts in the field of digitization and especially e-health. Further and enlarging the scope of research fields in EC/SC, health digitization enhances the visibility of regimes of engagement, by inducing a distancing from public justifications.
Studying complex material and immaterial arrangements in the digitization of health, EC/SC contributes to the ongoing discussions in related fields such as Science and Technology Studies, Critical Data Studies, or ethical discussions on e-health. Insights in EC/SC research may enlighten the elementary function of objects, technologies, and most importantly intermediaries in the context of e-health. As a practical consequence, research progresses in all fields and uncovers the fragmentation and unavailability of health for users, as well as health organizations, professionals, and decision-makers.

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