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The Increasing Use of Mobile Devices for Health

Posted by | 11:48am on Wednesday, November 28, 2012
African American teen girl lying on bed using smartphone

19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone 

The latest Pew Internet & American Life Project report found that 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone and of those, 53% own smartphones. Thirty one percent of cell phone owners have used their phone to look for health information. Smartphone owners lead this activity: 52% gather health information on their phones, compared with 6% of non-smartphone owners. Cell phone owners who are Latino, African American, aged 18-49, or hold a college degree are also more likely to gather health information this way.

This research supports other data on the growth of mobile health searches. Google reports that compared to 2011, this year has seen a 16% increase in health searches but an 80% increase in mobile health searches. Doctors, as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are also increasingly using mobile devices.

Not surprisingly, Pew learned that health status also plays a role in how mobile devices are used. Those more likely to use their phones for health information include:
•    Caregivers
•    People who recently faced a medical crisis
•    People who experienced a recent, significant change in their physical health

For rare diseases, we want to be sure to reach patients and healthcare providers at their moment of need—whenever and however they are looking for information. The increasing reliance on mobile reinforces the need to use responsive design for websites. Responsive design means that a site is designed and built to offer an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices—from laptops to tablets to smartphones. In other words, responsive websites respond to their environment. This allows a single website to work well on a variety of screen sizes.

What about health apps?
Pew reported that 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet and weight apps are the most popular types.

Does this data support what you’re seeing?

(Image courtesy of zalouk webdesign on Flickr).

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

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