The dissemination of digital communication via mobile phones and computers allows for more and more illness and health communication, unconstrained by time and place, e.g. online doctor and patient communication, online health forums, wearable devices and apps, different options for measurements, etc. For example, the option of digital consultations in general practice was made compulsory in 2009, and today, 16% (6.6 million) of all consultations with general practitioners take place digitally (Statistics Denmark 2018). Digital solutions, in particular a number of apps, are being introduced in hospitals as a supplement to telephone and face-to-face consultations. Apps and wearable devices can also be used to collect health data on a daily basis as well as for treatment purposes, e.g. reminding a patient when to take his/her medicine. Digitisation makes it possible to democratise health data; an example of this is the “Min Læge” (My Doctor) app, which provides access to the patient's own health data. Digital Health is a collective term for these very diverse technological solutions, which embrace new opportunities and perspectives – as well as a number of challenges.
New roles and division of responsibilities
The healthcare system is also experiencing ever-increasing challenges from digital platforms such as Netdoktor (Net Doctor), unauthorised healthcare blogs and chat forums, which significantly change the premises of the role and authority of the healthcare professionals and similarly redefine the opportunities and challenges of the patient. What happens in the interaction between doctors and patients when the citizen has increased access to digital platforms where they can obtain knowledge about diagnosis and treatment? And when they can perform measurements and obtain knowledge about health using apps and wearable devices independently? There is therefore a need to examine the way in which digitisation is changing the premises of healthcare.
The good digital consultation
One of the existing challenges with regard to digitisation is that healthcare professionals still lack an introduction to how “the good digital consultation” can be facilitated. Where, for example, doctors are trained in verbal communication during their education, there is limited focus on how the premises for consultation can be changed when communication no longer takes place through traditional body and oral language. What happens to the perceptions of trust and risk when communication is digitised? The question therefore becomes how to ensure dialogical involvement of patients in an area with increasing digitisation.
Learn more about the research projects within Digital Health here.