About this Research Topic

Abstract Submission Deadline 15 October 2022
Manuscript Submission Deadline 15 April 2023

Digital health technologies have emerged as a potential solution to transform health care systems into more sustainable organizations, and to support patient-centered care. A shift of health care from hospitals to patients’ homes is encouraged and facilitated by digital health technologies such as telemedicine, telecare-systems, mobile applications, tracking and sensor technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI)-based health technologies. These innovations provide new ways to communicate about health by playing an active role in how patients interact with health care providers or self-manage their disease at home. Technologies aiming to facilitate care at a distance (e.g., through teleconsultation or telecare systems), or to improve tailored health communication (e.g., by using mHealth or AI-based health technologies), affect care practices, care coordination, and social relations of care.

Over the past decade, social science and humanities research has documented changes in the organization of care and the redistribution of responsibilities. Oudshoorn (2011), for example, investigates the redistribution of roles among patients, nurses, and physicians during the implementation of a remote cardiac monitoring device. In the same vein, AI-based health technologies transform how health care systems relate with patients by providing more patient-centered and personalized care services. Some technologies are developed in clinical or hospital contexts to support personalized medicine or improve diagnosis. Others are developed for use by patients and caregivers in their everyday life, and to support self-care and improve access to personalized care resources.

These technologies provide access to tailored educational resources and enhanced health communication strategies. At the same time, their use presents complex social, organizational, communicational, and interactional challenges. Such challenges include building constructive relationships with technology, and improving health communication to engage people in self-care practices or limit possible physical, psychological, or emotional harms for patients. The integration of digital health technologies into clinical practice and the daily lives of patients thus remains a major challenge for health organizations.

This Research Topic will focus on various communication practices related to the use of digital health technologies by patients and/or health care providers and will explore:

(1) The ways in which these technologies reconfigure and transform health care organizations and the patient/provider interaction and relationship. For example:

- How should physical examinations at a distance be performed? How do health care providers create positive relationships at a distance with patients? And what communication skills should health care providers develop to perform teleconsultations?
- What sort of 'invisible work' do patients and caregivers do when using telehealth technologies? What skills are needed to integrate these technologies into care practices?

(2) The social and affective relationships people develop with, and through, digital health technologies. Tracing the “sociability” of these innovations, to put it with Pols & Moser (2009, 161) “might teach us something about why people do or do not like to use [them], by attending to what norms or ‘normativities’ they enact, how they structure interaction, and thus in what ways technologies help to shape ways of living with disease.” For example:

- How do patients integrate (or not) telehealth technologies into their daily lives? What are the different ways of using them?
- How can these technologies support self-care practices? How do telehealth technologies reconfigure patient-physician communication?
- How does telehealth impact the coordination of care and the work of care teams?

Empirical studies focusing on the use of care technologies in real-life settings are encouraged (e.g., ethnographic, narrative or visual approaches, interaction analysis based on ethnomethodological approach, conversational analysis, or multimodal analysis).

Keywords: Teleconsultation, telecare, sensor/wearable devices, AI-based health technologies, patient/providers interactions, health communication, care at a distance, virtual care, self-management & use of eHealth/mHealth, AI-based technologies & tailored health communication


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Digital health technologies have emerged as a potential solution to transform health care systems into more sustainable organizations, and to support patient-centered care. A shift of health care from hospitals to patients’ homes is encouraged and facilitated by digital health technologies such as telemedicine, telecare-systems, mobile applications, tracking and sensor technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI)-based health technologies. These innovations provide new ways to communicate about health by playing an active role in how patients interact with health care providers or self-manage their disease at home. Technologies aiming to facilitate care at a distance (e.g., through teleconsultation or telecare systems), or to improve tailored health communication (e.g., by using mHealth or AI-based health technologies), affect care practices, care coordination, and social relations of care.

Over the past decade, social science and humanities research has documented changes in the organization of care and the redistribution of responsibilities. Oudshoorn (2011), for example, investigates the redistribution of roles among patients, nurses, and physicians during the implementation of a remote cardiac monitoring device. In the same vein, AI-based health technologies transform how health care systems relate with patients by providing more patient-centered and personalized care services. Some technologies are developed in clinical or hospital contexts to support personalized medicine or improve diagnosis. Others are developed for use by patients and caregivers in their everyday life, and to support self-care and improve access to personalized care resources.

These technologies provide access to tailored educational resources and enhanced health communication strategies. At the same time, their use presents complex social, organizational, communicational, and interactional challenges. Such challenges include building constructive relationships with technology, and improving health communication to engage people in self-care practices or limit possible physical, psychological, or emotional harms for patients. The integration of digital health technologies into clinical practice and the daily lives of patients thus remains a major challenge for health organizations.

This Research Topic will focus on various communication practices related to the use of digital health technologies by patients and/or health care providers and will explore:

(1) The ways in which these technologies reconfigure and transform health care organizations and the patient/provider interaction and relationship. For example:

- How should physical examinations at a distance be performed? How do health care providers create positive relationships at a distance with patients? And what communication skills should health care providers develop to perform teleconsultations?
- What sort of 'invisible work' do patients and caregivers do when using telehealth technologies? What skills are needed to integrate these technologies into care practices?

(2) The social and affective relationships people develop with, and through, digital health technologies. Tracing the “sociability” of these innovations, to put it with Pols & Moser (2009, 161) “might teach us something about why people do or do not like to use [them], by attending to what norms or ‘normativities’ they enact, how they structure interaction, and thus in what ways technologies help to shape ways of living with disease.” For example:

- How do patients integrate (or not) telehealth technologies into their daily lives? What are the different ways of using them?
- How can these technologies support self-care practices? How do telehealth technologies reconfigure patient-physician communication?
- How does telehealth impact the coordination of care and the work of care teams?

Empirical studies focusing on the use of care technologies in real-life settings are encouraged (e.g., ethnographic, narrative or visual approaches, interaction analysis based on ethnomethodological approach, conversational analysis, or multimodal analysis).

Keywords: Teleconsultation, telecare, sensor/wearable devices, AI-based health technologies, patient/providers interactions, health communication, care at a distance, virtual care, self-management & use of eHealth/mHealth, AI-based technologies & tailored health communication


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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