Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Elder People and Personal Data: New Challenges in Health Platformization

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Abstract:  In Uruguay, as in many countries around the world, healthcare providers are looking to digital technologies to enhance service provision. This includes introducing new data-intensive systems that facilitate connections between healthcare providers and patients and maintaining records of these interactions. This article considers the numeric ability of older citizens to critically assess the implications of platformization and datafication within the Uruguayan healthcare system with a view to identifying implications for digital literacy programs. The ability of older people to manage their personal data within healthcare systems shapes their ability to enact citizenship and human rights. This reality came into sharp relief during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrating the extent to which core social services have become datafied and digitally mediated, as well as their potential to deepen digital divides where senior citizens are concerned. Critical perspectives on technological change, well-being, and ageing offer useful perspectives on this challenge. Drawing inspiration from these perspectives, in this article, we explore the results of a digital literacy initiative that worked with 16 seniors to explore their experiences of personal data collection within Uruguay’s new National Comprehensive Health System. Our approach simultaneously worked to build digital literacy while also revealing the complex relationships and disconnections between the ontological frameworks mapped onto healthcare by systems designers and the reality of older people. In the conclusions, we consider the implications of these observations for seniors’ digital literacy interventions that foster seniors’ critical understanding of their data subjectivity in the context of local healthcare systems.

Keywords:  datafication; digital literacy; health care; platforms; seniors’ digital literacy; senior citizens



© Ana Rivoir, Katherine Reilly. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.