Digital health classifications in apps ̶ Practices and problems of their development and of their situational application
New research project applying convention theory, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Location: University of Lucern
Team: Valeska Cappel, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Karolin Kappler (FernUniversität in Hagen, external team member).
Timetable: start 1 April 2019, end 31 March 2022.
Presentation. For several years, more and more people are using health apps to understand and influence their health care. Such apps are offered by health insurances, but can also be downloaded to app stores in seconds on the smartphone. In addition, health professionals such as doctors or fitness trainers use health apps to digitally care for their patients. The use of such apps will give rise to new health data and thus new health knowledge. This health knowledge is of interest to both people in their daily lives, health professionals in the healthcare sector, and private companies that make money with this data. In most cases, health apps are developed by private companies rather than health professionals. It is not clear which values and ideas orient the manufacturers of health apps. It is unclear to what extent the opinions and arguments of health professionals but also the concerns of users of health apps play a role in the development of health apps. Not discussing the criteria of health apps together may mean that medical standards may play a minor role and that health apps may not meet users’ everyday needs. The project will investigate by which ideas health apps are designed by the manufacturers and whether these ideas are also compatible with the users’ ideas. In particular, it will examine how conflicts arise in the introduction of health apps and their application, for example, when people reject or discontinue the use of health apps or even when doctors question the quality of such apps. The project applies convention theory, which assumes that humans follow in their actions and decisions certain “worldviews” that serve as basic orientations. So the research is about the social actors who develop health apps and people who use them. Conflicts can be discovered where people follow different ‘worldviews’.
Keywords: healthcare, self-quantification, health apps, classifications, sociology of conventions, digitalization