Medical Treatments

Do People Use Cell Phones to Get Health Information?

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An article in AMA News about the latest Pew study on Mobile Cell Phone use caught my eye. The introduction to the article reads:

Despite the proliferation of cell phones in the United States, the number of people using them to access health information is low. But experts believe the sheer number of people using mobile phones and wireless devices means that health information eventually will get more mobile as well.

According to the study, 85% of Americans use mobile phones, but only 17% of cell phone owners have used them to look up health information. 9% of Americans have downloaded a health-related software app on their cell phone.

Get this. The highest use of cell phone health information seeking and downloading cell phone health apps was among 18 to 29 years olds at 29% and 15% respectively. With the exception of accidents, 18 to 29 years old adults are generally among the most healthy demographic. It’s hard to understand, perhaps with the exception of pregnancy and workout sites, why any young adult would be spending on their phone looking for health information. At that age they are immortal for god sakes.

Is it really surprising that so few older adults 50+, half of whom have at least one chronic condition, are the least likely to turn to cell phones to use their cell phone (if they have a smart phone) to seek health information or download health apps (at 6% and 8% respectively)?   First of all who among us over 45 can read the darn screen on their phone without glasses?   And have you ever tried putting on classes while trying to enter text using the phone’s tiny key pad?  It isn’t a pretty site.   Not to mention that most people that age still look to their own physician as the most trusted source of health information.

A Word To The Wise

So before all you health care marketers try and persuade your physician and hospital clients to invest in mobile health management apps or SMS text-based health management programs, consider this simple fact.  Unless you want to talk to health young adults (ok, one day they will get old), the people you need and want to reach don’t seem to be very interested.  But just wait 20 years, as all of today’s 18-29 year olds start to turn 50, and you just may have a market.