19 Jan 2021 5:00pm - 7:00pm ONLINE SESSION (UK Time)


This is an online event hosted via Zoom. Registration is now closed.


Fernando Valenzuela (Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile)

Richard Milne (Wellcome Genome Campus)

Alessia Costa (Wellcome Genome Campus)

Video: F Valenzuela


Video: A Costa  and R Milne



Fernando Valenzuela
'Telemedicine Is a Struggle Every Week': Invisible Practices of Machine Work in a Telemedicine Unit in Chile

In processes of implementation of telemedicine, as new medical equipment and technological artifacts are produced, tended, and incorporated in health care routines, some aspects of machine work (Strauss et al. 1985) become highly visible and controversial. However, while their impact on the practices and experiences of patients, nurses, and physicians tend to be foregrounded, the different kinds of work done by engineers and other professionals commonly clustered under the umbrella of 'IT support' may be more easily black-boxed. In this presentation, I provide an account of the experiences of members of telemedical IT support units in Chile. Building on the concept of machine work proposed by Strauss and colleagues, I am interested in the different types of backstage work that converge in the development, maintenance, and implementation of medical equipment and software, that make telemedicine possible in this case.

Richard Milne and Alessia Costa (Wellcome Genome Campus)
Covid, Cognition and the Spaces of Digital Health

In this paper we present the findings from a study of ethics in practice in the development of digital health technologies, particularly for older adults. We focus on two cases. The first is an analysis of Covid-19 contact tracing tools, drawing on the empirical study of apps and repeated interviews with older adults in the UK and Italy between April and October 2020. The second is the example of digital tools that aim at the early detection of cognitive decline, based on interviews with older adults and a review of developing technology and interviews with academic and corporate technology researchers. We draw on these two cases to examine first, how technology developers and users relate to notions of consent and agency in the use of digital health tools, how these are situated in relation to the material affordances of technology and finally, consider how expectations and practices of digital health inhabit and reshape spaces of health surveillance, healthcare and everyday life.


About the Speakers

Fernando A. Valenzuela is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile. Based on a multiple case study in Chile, his current research explores the trajectory and socio-material practices of telehealth. His previous work has focused on the performativity of the social sciences and art history.

Dr Alessia Costa is a medical anthropologist and post-doctoral fellow in society and ethics research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. She received her PhD in 2015 from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and has previously worked at King’s College London. Her current research explores the social and ethical implications of data-intensive approaches to the early detection of disease, with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Dr Richard Milne is senior social scientist in the Society and Ethics Research Group at the Wellcome Genome Campus and a senior visiting research fellow in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, where he is co-lead of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications theme of the Cambridge Public Health initiative. His research focusses on social and ethical questions associated with the development of new medical technologies, particularly related to Alzheimer’s disease and genomic medicine. He is currently PI on a Wellcome Trust-funded study of how experts and members of the public address ethical questions associated with the development of data-driven tools for the detection of cognitive decline.



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