Platform encounters: A study of digitised patient follow-up in HIV care

Benjamin Marent, Flis Henwood,

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital technologies are increasingly embedded in clinical encounters, reconfiguring the basis on which health care is delivered. Thereby, the delivery of care shifts from territorial locations in clinics and temporal modes of co-presence towards digital platforms. Drawing on a sociotechnical evaluation of digitised patient follow-up in HIV care, this paper argues that the forms of interactivity practised in platform encounters cannot be adequately understood through traditional interaction frameworks such as Erving Goffman's interaction order. To conceptualise the new informational space and temporal mode of ‘response presence’ within which platform encounters are conducted, the paper draws on theoretical advances made by Karin Knorr Cetina who further developed Goffman's interaction order to describe interactions augmented by ‘scopic media’. A comprehensive framework is presented to elaborate the distinct qualities of interactions occurring in face-to-face, tele-interaction and platform encounters and to analyse their affordances based on doctor and patient experiences. This framework is intended to stimulate further research on how new interactional forms between doctors and patients will reconfigure roles and responsibilities as well as wider structures of digital society. Furthermore, it can also support practical guidance of when and how different forms of clinical encounters may be integrated in care pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1135
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding information:
EmERGE was a project (2015–2020) funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant agreement no: 643736. The dissemination activities within the EmERGE project do not represent the opinion of the European Community and only reflect the opinion of the authors.


  • HIV
  • digital health
  • digital sociology
  • doctor–patient interaction
  • scopic media
  • telemedicine


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