The Frictions and Flows of Data-Intensive Transformations: A Comparative Study of Discourses, Practices, and Structures of Digital Health in the U.S. and India
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This dissertation examined the social and organizational implications of data-intensive transformations in healthcare through studying digital health and processes of informationalization in the U.S. and India. These transformations bring challenges of how to mobilize digital health data across different contexts of use and make data valuable for multiple stakeholders. To study these challenges I employed a combination of discourse analysis, ethnographic methods, and a comparative case study analysis to investigate digital health innovation across rural healthcare and urban consumer health and wellness settings in the U.S. and India. Through a communication lens this research examines sociotechnical interoperability for data across domains on three levels: discourses, communicative practices, and organizational structures and labor. Across the discourses and practices of different communities, I found communication gaps around health and wellness data. To explain these gaps I propose the concept of data valence to represent the different expectations and social values that mediate the social performance of data. Analysis through a data valence lens generated the following typology: actionability, connection, self-evidence, truthiness, discovery, accountability, and transparency. Mapping the multiple, and sometimes conflicting valences across contexts accounts for the multiple social and material lives of data and highlights tensions across stakeholder groups. I argue that this typology is portable to other fields of data-intensive work. In comparing cases of digital health pilot projects, the differences between reinforcing and redrawing professional boundary relations, and in the role of intermediary labor in translation of digital health data for clinical and administrative sensemaking, patient engagement, and algorithmic calibration, at one time support polyvalent data in the U.S. Telehealth case and hinder it in India mHealth. Further, in the aftermath of the terminated U.S. Telehealth project, aspects of the technology continued to materialize within organizational practices and structures, such that organizational changes became the <italic>technological residue</italic> of the pilot projects. This suggests digital health's emphasis on technological innovation overlooks essential organizational and communicative dimensions of informationalizing healthcare and needs to be expanded beyond measures of success and failure to account for how technological innovation extends into and co-evolves with a wider network of organizational practice.
- Communications