In January 2014, a new app for managing and monitoring one’s pregnancy became available for pregnant Medicaid patients in Wyoming. The app, called “Due Date Plus (DDP),” tracks and shares pregnancy milestones, enables people to look up symptoms or issues they are experiencing, and helps them connect with their healthcare provider. Of course, the app also collects data about the people using the app, which is then analyzed by Medicaid workers to learn more about their patients’ pregnancies. Currently, approximately 500 women in the state are using the app. The Wyoming Medicaid Director, James Bush, recently spoke glowingly about the app in terms of its uses for patients and what it has helped Medicaid workers learn about their patients. Due to high number of people in Wyoming who are rurally situated and must travel further for specific types of health care, Bush is very hopeful that the mutual sharing of information such mobile apps provide might increase healthy pregnancy outcomes and other medical care in the future.
At first, when I read this article, I was strongly reminded of Laura Brigg’s work related to biomedical testing on women’s bodies (Reproducing Empire, 2003) and larger conversations about the ways that technoscience acts upon women’s bodies in complicated ways. However, as I re-read the short article in Health Data Management, I also began to consider DDP in the context of Martha Hodes’ work on data collection, intimacy and race (see: Fractions and Fictions in the United States Census of 1890 in Ann Stoler’s (ed.) Haunted by Empire (2006)). For me, one of the most intriguing and provovative elements of that piece is the fictional narrative that Hodes weaves into her telling of census information collection in the late 1800s. Adding this element into her interpretation thickens the argument that Hodes makes in unique and compelling ways by deftly writing people back into the story she is telling about information and data. With this in mind, as I think further about DDP (and other mobile app research and discussions), I can’t help but wonder what information science scholarship might look like if it also tried to add people back in to its written work in innovative ways like this. How would this scholarship be received? What would it bring to the field?
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