It’s official. Mobile Health is hot!

by Hans on 2010/10/22

I’ve been following the mobile health (aka “mhealth”) for a while now. In fact, I’ve been more intrigued by mhealth than ehealth for the past couple of years. Why? Well, the main reason is that mhealth seems to be a more dynamic space at this point in time. In general terms, eHealth seems to be focused on the electronic health record (EHR) and seems to be in an implementation phase in both Canada and the US. Governments, health authorities, hospitals, and even physicians seem to be working hard to implement systems and go “digital”.

But, getting back to mhealth, I find the possibilities of accessing health information and health services via mobile technologies to be filled with significant potential. In only a few short years, we’ve seen Apple’s iPhone rejuvenate the smartphone market and just earlier this year, the iPad has seemingly done the same with the tablet PC. Well, now it is official. Mobile Health is *hot*. The Pew Research Center (specifically the Internet & American Life Project) has released a new report titled “Mobile Health 2010” which reports on the state of mobile health.

pew_mobilehealth2010.jpg

Two of the main findings of the report piqued my interesting:

  1. Roughly 17% of cell phone users have used their phone to access medical or health information
  2. Roughly 9% of mobile phone users have software “apps” which assist in tracking or managing their health

The report also points to the growing number of apps on multiple phone platforms (highlighting Apple, Google, and Blackberry). I suspect this report will be repeated in the future and it will be very interesting to see the trends (if any). My personal prediction is that these numbers will only increase given how the research seems to identify a cohort effect with younger people using mobile health more (which really isn’t surprising).

You can read the official summary and access the full report here. The full report provides much more detail regarding the methodology and more detailed statistics. My only quibble with the report is the American focus of the research. I don’t blame Pew as their stated focus is on American use of the Internet. It would be great if other countries would conduct similar research. As a side note, I highly doubt Canada will offer similar services as the current government seems against data and science; the current government has decided to stop the long-form census (you can read some articles and debate here).

{ 1 comment }

Laura O'Grady October 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Great blog posting as always.

I think the primary reason mhealth is being adopted at a much higher rate is because the patient can engage immediately by installing an app. Meanwhile those of us in Ontario wait (and wait) for our EHR to be rolled out (just occurred to me that a study between ER wait times and EHR wait time might be a good paper;) as we get rolled over while paying for it. 

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