Healthcare in the Society of the Internet: A Multi-Site Case Study of the Introduction of M-Health Technologies for HIV Care

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Benjamin MARENT, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Mary DARKING, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Flis HENWOOD, University of Brighton, United Kingdom
Social theorists recognise that the introduction of the computer and Internet technologies as new media of communication will bring about fundamental changes within the societal structure and culture. Within the healthcare domain, a new branch of sociological research is investigating the various ways in which digital technologies are employed and how they affect experiences (of health and illness), practices (of self-care and treatment) and structures (of care provision).

Contributing to this field of research, this study investigates the development and implementation of a mobile health (mHealth) platform to enable self-management of HIV in patients in five clinical sites across the European Union. The platform will provide users with web based and mobile device applications which interface securely with relevant medical data and facilitate remote access to key healthcare providers. In the first study phase, presented here, twenty group discussions and twenty individual interviews with patients and clinicians are carried out 1) to explore their experiences, competences and perspectives regarding mHealth technologies, 2) to assess the potential of the mHealth platform for HIV self-management and treatment, and 3) to investigate the concerns and challenges that will affect the implementation and adoption of the mHealth platform across the five clinical sites.

By an in-depth analysis of the empirical data gathered and informed by theories of society (Niklas Luhmann and Dirk Baecker), this presentation attempts to trace transformations of healthcare, triggered by the introduction of Internet technologies, in relation to social roles (e.g. expectations of, or, towards clinicians and patients), interactions (e.g. ir/relevance of face-to-face consultations), organizations (e.g. re-spatialsation and re-temporalisation of care), and the boundaries between societal subsystems (e.g. ambiguous jurisdictions between the highly regulated medical domain and the less regulated technology sector and market economy).