A Typology of Evaluative Health Platforms: Commercial Interests and Their Implications for Patient Voice

Jacob Reilley*, Dane Pflueger, Christian Huber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Interactions in the healthcare system today involve an important new set of actors: evaluative health platforms (EHPs). These platforms are not neutral intermediaries, but active moderators of how patients express opinions, choose providers, and consume health-related information. This paper adds to our understanding of the varied and evolving commercial interests of EHPs and the implications these have for patient voice. We analyze 71 platforms in the USA, UK, and Germany and identify five ideal types: subscribers, analyzers, advertisers, regulators, and scammers. Each platform type enacts a unique competitive strategy through an evaluative infrastructure which constrains but also generates possibilities for patient voice. Based on our typology, we develop three contributions. First, we nuance universalizing claims about the consequences of platform capitalism by specifying the diverse strategies underpinning competition between EHPs in different countries, and showing how each strategy leads evaluative infrastructures to develop in ways that impact patient voice. Second, we show how patients can navigate the challenges of a complex EHP space by exercising their ability to choose between platforms. Finally, we outline the conditions platforms need to fulfil to become empowering. Overall, this study highlights the varied and complex relationship between platform business models and user voice, which exists not only in healthcare, but also in many other fields.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116946
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume350
Number of pages37
ISSN0277-9536
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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