Susannah Fox at Pew Internet Research has reported on the profile of Cellphone owners who are seeking health information, but while it’s great to see some numbers I can’t help think that this is a massive underestimation of the opportunity.
Summary of key findings:
> 85% of American adults own a cell phone
> 58% of adults aged >65 own a cell phone
> 17% of cell phone users have specifically used their phones to look up health or medical information
> 9% have “apps” on their phones that help them track or manage their health.
> There are significant differences in search engine terms used on mobile and PC based health searchs eg. Yahoo report “pregnancy”, “herpes” and “STD” among the top 5 on the mobile version of their site but not in the non-mobile version.
As I’ve mentioned before I think these statistics need to carry a very strong caveat because contrary to what many people think (largely due to the media enthusiasm for App Stores) these statistics presume that:
“using your mobile to look up health or medical information” = “Reporting that you downloaded a Health App” + “Reporting that you searched for Health/Med info with your Mobile browser”
This is problematic from a reporting perspective because it completely discounts:
> People who text/call a friend to ask for advice
> People who call one another to discuss a patients health (eg. parents discussing a child, etc)
> Patients who are called by a friend/family member who has health/medical information
> People who text/call a Healthcare Professional for advice
> People who are called by Healthcare Professionals
> People who might use a native app (eg. the calendar/alarm to remind themselves to take a pill) or their mobile browser to get health/medical info but wouldn’t report this to someone from Princeton Survey Research Associates International in a telephone interview.
In my opinion this represents a much larger market and must be considered to get a valid appreciation of the proportion of “cell phone users (who) have specifically used their phones to look up health or medical information”.