Patient-generated health data – a new phenomenon that includes taking medical selfies, wearing body monitoring devices, and recording info on mobiles and health apps – has come under the lense of medical photographer and QUT PhD researcher Kara Burns.

According to Ms Burns, from QUT’s Business Faculty, the rise in patients taking their own medical selfies and tracking and documenting their health with devices like Fitbits is changing the doctor/patient relationship.

“I am interested in how this affects clinical care and am researching whether patients prefer to take their own photos or have their doctors take them,” Ms Burns said. “Also I’m looking at whether they should be taken on a dedicated camera or a smartphone.”

“I found clinicians were readily taking images on smart phones and that raised privacy and confidentiality concerns. I also noted patients were taking images on phones and bringing them into clinical consultations,” she continues.

“Current research suggests medical selfies could help with agenda setting during consultations and patients may be more likely to keep up treatment plans.

“The medical selfie is all part of the participatory medicine revolution and will affect practically everyone who sees a doctor.”

Ms Burns is seeking patients, doctors and carers to participate in her research. This includes people who have a condition such as a wound, a rash or a significant number of moles. The only other criterion is that participants have taken one photograph on a smart phone in the past year.

Ms Burns is also looking for medical practitioners and carers who look after people with these types of conditions.

To take part in the study, contact Ms Burns on

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