Digital health technologies and digital data: new ways of monitoring, measuring and commodifying human bodies

Deborah Lupton

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Since the early years of this century, digital technologies have become ubiquitous and pervasive. Mobile digital devices that can connect to the Internet from almost any location, such as smartphones, tablet computers and iPods have emerged onto the market and become widely adopted. Such devices allow their users to be potentially always digitally connected and reachable in some form. So too, over the past decade, social media platforms have emerged, allowing for the creation of content and the sharing of personal data. A further range of sensor-based technologies that can track people’s location, bodily movements and a range of other data about their practices, preferences and habits are now used for personal, governmental and commercial purposes. The digital data generated by all of these technologies are aggregated into massive datasets, now referred to as ‘big data’. The implications of these new technologies for healthcare and public health are profound. Frequent statements are now made in the medical and public health literature about an imminent revolution in healthcare, preventive medicine and public health driven by the
use of digital devices and associated apps, websites and platforms. Predictions have proliferated about how these technologies will come to dominate in medical and public health as a means of providing information, delivering patient care, bestowing responsibility upon lay people to manage their health and collecting large masses of health-related data on populations. There has been particular enthusiasm expressed about the possibilities for digital health in rural and remote regions and in developing countries, where good access to healthcare is often lacking. Digital health technologies are represented as offering an ideal,
cost-effective solution to the ‘wicked problems’ of healthcare delivery and encouraging people to change their behaviour in the effort to avoid ill health.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Digital Transformations
EditorsF Olleros, M Zhegu
Place of PublicationCheltenham UK
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781784717766
ISBN (Print)9781784717759
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016


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