Background: Nowadays, digital self-tracking devices offer a plethora of possibilities to both healthy and chronically ill users who want to closely examine their body. This study suggests that self-tracking in a private setting will lead to shifting understandings in professional care. To provide more insight into these shifts, this paper seeks to lay bare the promises and challenges of self-tracking while staying close to the everyday professional experience of the physician. Objective: The aim of this study was to (1) offer an analysis of how medical doctors evaluate self-tracking methods in their practice and (2) explore the anticipated shifts that digital self-care will bring about in relation to our findings and those of other studies. Methods: A total of 12 in-depth semistructured interviews with general practitioners (GPs) and cardiologists were conducted in Flanders, Belgium, from November 2015 to November 2016. Thematic analysis was applied to examine the transcripts in an iterative process. Results: Four major themes arose in our body of data: (1) the patient as health manager, (2) health obsession and medicalization, (3) information management, and (4) shifting roles of the doctors and impact on the health care organization. Our research findings show a nuanced understanding of the potentials and pitfalls of different forms of self-tracking. The necessity of contextualization of self-tracking data and a professionalization of self-care through digital devices come to the fore as important overarching concepts. Conclusions: This interview study with Belgian doctors examines the potentials and challenges of self-monitoring while focusing on the everyday professional experience of the physician. The dialogue between our dataset and the existing literature affords a fine-grained image of digital self-care and its current meaning in a medical-professional landscape.
This is the abstract only. Read the full article on the JMIR site. JMIR is the leading open access journal for eHealth and healthcare in the Internet age.