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Health Monitoring Applications and the Transparency of Health

open-access


DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/delphi/2019/3/6

Bas de Boer


Mobile health (mHealth) is considered an important solution to the problem of delivering quality care in light of an aging population. One of the promises of mHealth is the development and promotion of mobile applications that support individuals in adopting a healthier lifestyle. In this paper, I will analyze in what sense health monitoring applications (HMAs) can establish a relationship between individuals and the ‘healthiness’ of their lifestyle. Through a phenomenological analysis of health, I show that our ‘health’ or the ‘healthiness’ of our lifestyle is transparent to us (eg, is not something that can be explicitly related to). As a consequence, mHealth is unable to make present ‘health’ or our ‘healthy lifestyle’ as a totality. I argue that this places limits on the extent to which mHealth can be understood as something that (dis)empowers citizens to take responsibility for their own health. Rather, so I suggest, HMAs give rise to a specific relation with one’s physical or biological body, instead of making present one’s health status. Therefore, discussions about HMAs should not be exclusively focus on how they (dis)empower citizens, but additionally focus on evaluating how our physical body is drawn out of its transparency.

Bas de Boer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Philosophy Department, University of Twente. For correspondence: <mailto:s.o.m.deboer@utwente.nl>

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