IHD is a Wellcome Trust funded project based at the Open University exploring these how healthcare payment is quietly changing in the context of recent legislative and technological convergence. We are social scientists (two sociologists, two geographers and one specialist in accounting and organisation) interested in the political and social implications of digital data on healthcare and payment. This website is where we publish our research
in progress and share academic papers
. If you would like more information please
Primary Investigator More
Liz McFall is Head of Sociology at the Open University. Her recent work has focused on how people, states and markets interact in welfare and financial services provision and how this is being reconfigured through legislative changes, like Obamacare and the technologies surrounding digital health. In Devising Consumption: cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending (Routledge, 2014) she used industrial assurance and doorstep credit histories to argue that states and markets were inevitable if uneasy allies in the promotion of public welfare and consumption. She is author of Advertising: a cultural economy (2004), co-editor of Markets and the Arts of Attachment (2016), Conduct: sociology and social worlds (2008), Joint Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cultural Economy and co-founder of the CHARISMA Consumer Market Studies
David Moats recently completed his PhD at Goldsmiths at the Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP). His work concerns the application of Big Data and Digital Methods methods informed by recent work from STS and Media Studies. In his PhD dissertation he developed new techniques, tactics and data visualisations for studying science controversies on various online platforms (Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter). These techniques are more exploratory and interpretive and question the way in which their data is gathered and formatted and are thus more compatible with qualitative work. David recently took up a postdoc at Linkoping University, Sweden with Steve Woolgar where he is working to extend these insights and methods to other types of data: qualitative field notes and interviews, census data, open and administrative data and economic data in addition to the big health data, which is the focus of IHD.
James Kneale is particularly interested in the historical relationships between life assurance, alcohol and medicine in the Anglophone world, especially the role of actuaries, doctors and others in calculating the risks involved in drinking. His recent work with Shaun French has demonstrated some interesting continuities in the pricing of alcohol risks from the late nineteenth century to the present.He has also worked with epidemiologists, historians, and social scientists on alcohol consumption and policy; given evidence before the Parliamentary Health Select Committee (2009, quoted in First Report on Alcohol, 2010); been consulted by the Department of Health and Alcohol Research UK; and given policy briefings at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Royal Geographical Society. Press includes the Times, Time Out, Radio 3, and Radio 4, and he is one of the editors of the journal Social History of Alcohol and Drugs.
Shaun’s research expertise is in the politics of the production of, and access to retail financial services. In close collaboration with James Kneale, Shaun has studied processes of biofinancialisation focusing particularly on changes in the UK long-term insurance market (health insurance, life insurance, critical illness cover and annuities). This research has documented the ways in which lifestyle and ‘wellbeing’ data (e.g. Body Mass Index, alcohol consumption, gym membership) are becoming increasingly central to efforts by insurers to assess morbidity and mortality risk, price products and incentivise policyholders and how new, mass personalised insurance scheme such as Pruhealth’s ‘Vitality’ programme deepen and reconfigure processes of everyday, financial subjectification and the consequences for questions of welfare reform and social justice. Shaun’s research has also situated present biofinancialisation in the political-economy of financial crisis and financialisation, as well as the longer history of the capitalisation of life and health. This work has been supported by a British Academy grant which was awarded in 2010 specifically to study the use of lifestyle and health data in risk pricing pension annuities. Shaun’s investigations into the highly uneven social and geographical dynamics of access to mainstream financial services have been widely reported in the press
and submitted as evidence to a House of Commons Treasury Select Committee report on Financial Inclusion.
Zsuzsanna Vargha is Lecturer in Accounting and Organisation at the University of Leicester and Visting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her overarching interest has been in mass personalization, the new technologies that lie at the intersection of accounting and marketing expertise. The mass personal has enormous appeal as market-creating and cost-saving device in our shared consumer economy and financially struggling healthcare alike. Her work has encompassed questions of new market combinations such as the cross-selling of banking and insurance products and the crafting of new markets for finance, looking at the ubiquity of Swiss Franc-denominated mortgages and national crisis in Eastern Europe. She brings insights from accounting scholarship on performance measurement and standardization to the study of digital health technologies. Zsuzsanna is Editor of the European Economic Sociology Electronic Newsletter (ESEEN)
for 2015-2016, an open access online academic journal published by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, including a recent thematic issue on insurance.