Communication as ongoing care: a study of the use of the MyChart app among patients living with chronic bowel disease

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In 2016-17, the hospitals in the Capital and Zealand regions in Denmark implemented a new patient portal, MyChart, as part of a broader IT-infrastructure for healthcare, the Health Platform (Sundhedsplatformen). Drawing on the concept of care infrastructures (Danholt and Langstrup 2012)this article investigates how the patient portal is currently embedded in the collaborative care for people living with chronic bowel disease. Discussing findings from fieldwork among chronic patients and clinicians at a hospital unit for Gastroenterology in Copenhagen around the implementation and use of MyChart, we sensitize discussions about care infrastructures and the push for self-care to the role of mediated communication in care. Specifically, MyChart introduces a new media choice in the patients’ ongoing communication with the clinic. While they can still call the clinic during opening hours, MyChart enables patients to communicate in writing with their physician about their treatment at a time and place convenient to them, for instance on the bus on the way home from work or when they experience symptoms at night, through a smartphone app. Our fieldwork indicates that patients have clear – but very different – preferences for either oral or written communication with their physician, linking these modes to experiences of authority, authenticity and joint decision-making. We suggest that the introduction of more communicative flexibility for patients speaks to an important element in contemporary care infrastructures. This choice, while seemingly trivial, grants the patient communication agency, at a point where the patient can actually master the role of active partner in care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe Digitally Engaged Patient - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 11 Jun 201912 Jun 2019


ConferenceThe Digitally Engaged Patient
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen
Internet address

ID: 222800792