Error Carried Forward: Health Information Seeking Behaviour of CellPhone Users

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”.

About 3G Doctor

The Corporate Blog of 3G Doctor
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1 Response to Error Carried Forward: Health Information Seeking Behaviour of CellPhone Users

  1. Pingback: “Helping your patients make sense of the mHealth Marketplace” « mHealth Insight: the blog of 3G Doctor

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