18 September 2012

Experientia researcher speaking at Harvard’s Medicine 2.0 conference

Be the first to share

Experientia researcher Anna Wojnarowska spoke this Sunday at the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston on her research on the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

The yearly conference, which had over 500 attendees, focuses on social media, mobile apps, and internet/web 2.0 in health, medicine and biomedical research.

Anna’s talk, entitled Body Wholeness and Technological Struggles: How Patients and Staff Cope with the Reality of the Hospital, presented an ethnographic study of a cardiology institute in Warsaw with a focus on the way the digital technologies influence the dynamics between the doctors and patients

Background:
What interested me the most in the specificity of the hospital environment was the potential influence of digital technologies – such as mobile phones and laptops – on the dynamics between patients and doctors, mediated through medical treatment. I wanted to find out what role digital communication devices play in the balance of authority between doctors and patients and how using these tools expresses the personal needs of patients.

Objective:
My research examines the influence of the hospital environment, communication devices – laptops, mobile phones – and the technologies involved in the curing process such as drips and cardiac devices – on patients’ experiences of hospitalization.

Methods:
I conducted ethnographic research in a cardiological institute in Poland. Having negotiated access as an “ethnographic intern” to one of the clinics, I participated in the life of the hospital to the extent available to an outside observer, for a period of three weeks. I conducted interviews with eleven patients, two family members, seven members of the medical staff – doctors and nurses – and three members of the hospital’s administrative staff. Further, I engaged in extensive observation of the hospital environment.

Results:
All of the patients whom I met during the research period were extensive users of mobile phones, but they were rarely equipped with their own laptops. Patients treated technology as an important conveyor of their private realities, lives that they did not necessarily want to include in their hospital routine. Patients approached hospitalization as a temporary period, which they did not want to integrate with their everyday lives. They protected their bodily integrity by negating their dependence on medical and communicational devices, not wishing to be perceived as ‘cyborgs’ (Haraway 1985) or ‘techno-social beings’ (Latour 1993). In order to separate themselves from their roles as ‘patients’, they exerted their agency on those technological aspects of the hospital reality, which were within their reach, such as medical screens and drips. Even though the doctors were very eager to share stories of how patients undermined their medical authority by browsing the internet, the patients themselves claimed that they do it only for their own sake, without wanting to disobey their doctors. The complexity of the treatments conducted in the clinic increased patients’ trust in the medical profession and decreased their motivation to look for alternative information online. Nonetheless, online sources do play an important role during the curing process, as an effective source of emotional support and personal comfort.

Conclusions:
The hospital is an area where patients construct their personhoods in reference to the surrounding environment and where they foster their identities. Digital technologies became deeply embedded in the process of maintaining bodily integrity and tackling a new – and yet temporary – hospitalized reality. What requires attention is the potential of technology in creating bonds among the patients themselves as well as supporting their daily routine in the hospital, far different from the ‘ordinary’ one. The influence of technology on the balance of authority seems a secondary issue, as patients who come equipped with an extensive knowledge of their condition seem able to effectively distinguish trustworthy online sources (such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, online medical journals) from the unreliable ones (online forums) and have no intention to carelessly undermine doctors’ diagnoses and opinions.

In the next post, Anna writes about her experience of the conference.

Be the first to share
7 December 2017
Game Your Brain: The neurological impact of UX
The world is experiencing a merging of media and minds that we haven't yet created a vocabulary for. We know that user experience design has the power to respond to what algorithms deem "suitable" to us, …
6 December 2017
Workplace anthropology video series
A few months ago a new channel Workplace Anthropology Matters popped up on Youtube that profiles workplace anthropologists, whose work directly influence their own workplace processes. The video series is part of a workshop in …
30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives
The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates …
26 November 2017
Developing human interactions with autonomous systems
Two excellent Medium articles by the people of Humanising Autonomy, a London based startup that works towards a vision of intuitive interactions between autonomous systems and people: Child-Friendly Autonomous Vehicles: Designing Autonomy with all road users …
22 November 2017
Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts
Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts By Alessandra N. Bazzano (1), Jane Martin (2), Elaine Hicks (3), Maille Faughnan (1), and Laura Murphy (1) PLoS ONE12(11): e0186744. Published: November 1, 2017 Health …
22 November 2017
[Book] Making Cities Smarter
Making Cities Smarter - Designing Interactive Urban Applications by Martin Tomitsch Jovis Publishers March 2018, 208 pages Abstract More than half of the world's population is now living in cities, and this number is predicted to rise. This means that …
20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership
Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design "Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of …
8 November 2017
‘Thick data’ sees the market future when big data can’t
“Customers are really the most unpredictable, the most unknown, and the most difficult-to-quantify thing for any business,” said Tricia Wang, ethnographer and co-founder of Sudden Compass, in an interview during the IBM Data Science for …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives

The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates a need for improvement in transparency of public services delivery and use of supporting technology like eIDs or eDocuments. Performance […]

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Lead Service Designer

Lead Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) Experientia is seeking a Senior Service Designer to lead service design projects from the Turin, Italy office (*) or the Lausanne, Switzerland office. The Senior Service Designer will have experience leading a team of behavioral analysts and service modelers in research and service design projects lasting […]

See all articles