Experience and Expectation - Digital health implementation in Portugal as present-making via futures imaginations

Traditionally, anthropological analysis has placed emphasis on traditions, customs, and cultural heritage, often overlooking the connection between present actions and future aspirations. Acknowledging the reciprocal influence of present actions in shaping the future and the impact of future visions on shaping present actions, this article aims to redress the neglect of future implications on present social practices within anthropological studies. Through an investigation of the implementation of digital health in Portugal, utilizing discourse analysis, qualitative examination, and critical reflection, this study delves into the impact of digitization on sociotechnical systems within healthcare. It also introduces concepts pertinent to the anthropology of the future and methodological propositions for studying the future within the present context. This inquiry explores the sociotechnical imaginaries stemming from the conceptualization of digital health ideals and their realization in present contexts. Aligned with Koselleck's philosophy of historical time, this examination reveals an essential interplay between present actions and future consequences, advocating for an anticipatory approach in anthropology. This method seamlessly integrates future considerations into present realities, augmenting our understanding of social dynamics and fostering a forward-thinking perspective. This perspective is particularly valuable for scrutinizing the intricate political economies of techno-scientific promises fostered within innovation-oriented endeavours. The analysis, conducted across three dimensions—the utilization, reconfiguration, and evolution of the healthcare system through digitalization—highlights the intricate relationship between current healthcare practices, future aspirations, and the transformative impact of digitalization.