Layers of sense: the sensory work of diagnostic sensemaking in digital health

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Sensory judgements have always been a part of medical practice and this sensory work is often entangled with technologies, from the stethoscope to digitised devices for advanced life support. This article investigates this sensory work and its entanglements with technological sensors in diagnostic practice. Based on semi-structured interviews, it presents a close analysis of practitioners’ use of anaesthetic monitoring and telemedicine. It argues that senses and sensors are recursively combined in the moment towards understanding. In this, digital technologies do not present self-evident data, but rather the practitioner must learn to sense the sensors to interpret health and illness. Sensory work (of both the senses and sensors) is not dispensable or entirely delegable because it is intimately entwined with sensemaking. The significance of sensory work to sensemaking reinforces the importance of its consideration in digital health sociotechnical assemblages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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