According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the vast majority of American adults — 85% — use a cell phone. But how many of them are using their cell phones to improve their health? The center’s Mobile Health 2010 survey revealed that 17% of all cell phone users have looked up health or medical information online with their phones. In the 18-to-29 age group, however, the number of users accessing mobile health information was 29%. The survey also found that 9% of all cell phone users have health apps on their phone, while 15% of users in the 18-to-29 age group have health apps installed.
Urban cell phone users were more likely than suburban or rural users to have health apps on their phones and to access mobile health information. In addition, users with wireless Internet access were more likely to search for health information online: 78% of wireless Internet users have accessed health information online, versus 70% of desktop users and 59% of Americans overall.
The health care system remains a long way from truly going mobile, however. The report noted that most users still prefer offline methods of searching for health information. “Most people turn to a health professional, friend or family member when they have a health question; the Internet plays a growing but still supplemental role — and mobile connectivity has not changed that.”
The survey was conducted in association with the California HealthCare Foundation, whose April, 2010 report indicated that smartphone use is growing among patients and physicians.