Digital Consumer Health: Negotiating Multiple Voices in the Clinical Consultation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Abstract In this paper, we explore what may happen when people who are ostensibly “well” bring data from digital self-tracking technologies to medical consultations. On the basis of a fictional case narrative, we explore how multiple “voices”, in a Bakhtinian sense of the term, inscribed in the self-tracking devices are activated, negotiated, evaluated and re-imagined in the context of care. The digital metrics “speak” precision, objectivity and urgency in ways that challenge conventional, normative understandings of doctors’ professional role and the patient-doctor relationship. Our theorizing is firmly grounded in our professional experience and informed by recent research on self-tracking, Mol’s research on the ways in which technology has become integral to medical care, Bakhtinian theory and medical professionalism, and it contributes to current professional debates regarding medical overuse and its potential to harm patients. Further research is needed to illuminate the consequences of digital self-tracking technologies for patient-professional consultations in practice.