Den endeløse behandling: En undersøgelse af velfærdsteknologiers påvirkning af sygdom og behandling

Simon Hein Frederiksen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis seeks to investigate how the introduction of welfare technologies affect the way meaning about illness and treatment is created. The empirical starting point is three welfare technologies that have been introduced in the Danish public healthcare system in recent years: A diabetes app, KOL Kufferten and Monarca, an app for bipolar patients. The three technologies function as managing technologies with the purpose of making the patients do certain actions at home after the treatment at the hospital has ended. The technologies also affect the expectations to the patients and doctors in a way that gives the patient more responsibility for his treatment.
This study finds that bringing treatment and monitoring into the homes of patients is a new phenomenon that contradicts the old view on treatment as an action that takes place in the hospital and ends when the patients are released from hospital. This thesis argues that a new treatment situation arises with the introduction of such technologies. The old distinction between healthy and ill can no longer describe what happens when the patient is released from hospital, but still being treated and monitored. Instead, a situation where the patient is being seen as potentially sick arises. By monitoring his health up to multiple times per day, the patient is always only one bad registration from ending up in the hospital or in another form of direct treatment from the doctor. With this mechanism in place, the patient can no longer be seen as healthy when he leaves the hospital, but is instead in a state of constant potential illness. This state causes the treatment period to continue indefinitely and changes the focus of treatment from the illness to the patient. Instead of treating the patient for an illness, the patient becomes the center of attention, and the lifestyle and habits of the patient become the doctor's focus. Getting the patient to be healthier to prevent illnesses becomes the goal of the welfare technologies that also installs a possibility for the doctor to intervene in the patient's life when a registration falls outside the accepted range. In that way, the authority of the doctor is prolonged to the patient's private sphere at all times and establishes a constant possibility of going back in treatment.
This new treatment room is never seen before, and even though we can see a parallel in other health technologies that aim to increase or manage the health of a population, the new treatment room is distinct, because it offers the doctor an opportunity to manage every part of the patient's life and set himself in as an authority in the patient's life when the patient does not comply with the expectations. The thesis therefore concludes that the technologies that were meant to set the patients free and give them power to live more freely has the opposite effect and keeps the patients in a state of potential illness for an infinite amount of time.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages71
SupervisorsAnders la Cour