WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn28 )

Emerging trends and challenges in the digitizing health sector

Organizers

    Divesh Dik

    India

    Department of Anthropology, Panjab University , Chandigarh, India

    Online - Presence

    Alexandra Lee Crampton

    United States of America

    Marquette University

    Online - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Aging and the Life Course

IUAES Affiliation: Anthropology of Pandemics

Keywords:

Digital healthcare, telemedicine, cybersecurity, accessibility, global health

Abstract:

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted every sector, including healthcare. It produced severe challenges for healthcare systems internationally, altering established operational practices, interrupting the medical supply chain, and producing crucial supply shortages across the value chain. Furthermore, the pandemic has compelled the health industry to rapidly embrace virtual care and facilitate a digital transition in healthcare. The healthcare industry faces both difficulties and opportunities due to the increasing prominence of digital services and systems, which are driving what is often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution (Schwab, 2017). While digital solutions promise to be tools to leapfrog existing challenges around infrastructure and resource shortages, especially in the global South (Neumark, 2022), they also pose significant challenges, not least of all around, built-in biases, their lack of explainability, privacy, and accountability (Paul et al, 2023; Neumark, 2020). As a result, they also risk compounding existing inequities (Panch et al., 2019). In order to ensure digital transitions of public health institutions benefits those in need of care, it is imperative to establish a clear and well-defined strategy in consultation that takes into account a variety of views and experiences. Digital health encompasses a range of distant interaction practices to improve the treatment, health, and well-being of patients in a connected and coordinated manner. It encompasses telemedicine appointments and several intricate components of healthcare provision and administration, such as ‘Hospital at Home’ programs. With the expedition of digital health implementations and their normalization, there have also been shifts in the connection between healthcare providers and patients in more efficacy-oriented environment (see Lupton, 2027). Presently, the healthcare industry is predominantly concerned with cybercriminals, and data breaches can result from several situations, such as the use of malware to acquire credentials or the inadvertent or deliberate disclosure of patient data by an insider. Meanwhile, despite the pandemic highlighting all kinds of interconnections, the social repercussions of the shifts towards virtual service delivery have garnered much less public attention. The panel therefore looks for contributions that grapple with the insights we can glean from COVID-19 and the pandemic's impact on global power dynamics. How can we ensure digitization does not widen existing socio-economic gaps? And what is the significance of anthropology in global health and its emphasis on addressing the specific needs of individuals through technology?