Mobile Health Data Access Jumps 125 Percent: comScore

 
 
By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2012-01-20
 
 
 

A new MobiLens report from digital market intelligence firm comScore reveals that the number of people accessing health information on their mobile devices has grown by 125 percent over the previous year.

During a three-month average period ending in November 2011, 16.9 million users accessed health information on mobile devices in the United States, comScore reports.

In addition, close to three in five mobile users accessing health information were below age 35, according to the company.

Health is one of the "fastest-growing content categories," comScore reports.

Health care is also one of the fastest-growing segments in the wireless industry, Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, The Wireless Association, told eWEEK.

A comScore Data Gem blog post reported the data on Jan. 16.

The firm pulled the information from comScore MobiLens, an ongoing survey incorporating a national sample of mobile subscribers ages 13 and up. MobiLens tracks mobile consumer behavior in the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada.

The growth in access to mobile health information shows that people are more comfortable using mobile apps, Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, told eWEEK.

Younger Americans are actively using mobile phones to access health data, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. As of 2010, 96 percent of people ages 18 to 29 owned a cell phone.

In addition to Web resources to look up articles on resources such as WebMD and iTriage, consumers could potentially increase their use of mobile devices for remote health monitoring of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart ailments.

Doctors mainly use mobile devices to access their calendars and clinical reference content from companies such as Epocrates and WebMD, said Malkary.

The small screens of smartphones could hamper clinical use on those devices, he said. Entering patient data in electronic health records (EHR) could be more suitable for larger-screen tablets.

"Doctor are not really using the iPhone or smartphones to access clinical information," said Malkary. "Quite frankly the device is too small to do anything clinically."

Still, physicians have demonstrated an interest in accessing pharmaceutical data on smartphones and tablets according to a recent Manhattan Research report. Of doctors connected to pharmaceutical resources online, 45 percent preferred to access this information on a smartphone or iPad, Manhattan Research reports. Doctors use mobile devices to look up information on drug interactions and prescribe medication.

Manhattan Research's Cybercitizen Health U.S. 2011 study found that 26 percent of U.S. adults accessed health information or tools on their mobile devices within the last year.

By patients using text messaging to access health information and get feedback from doctors on their condition rather than visiting a doctor's office, the health care industry could drive down costs, Jot Carpenter, vice president of government affairs for CTIA, told eWEEK.

ABI Research has predicted that mobile data services, such as Short Message Service (SMS) email and texting will grow to $7.7 billion by 2014. In fact, the mobile health app market will surpass $400 million by 2016, ABI reports.

In a recent survey of 350 health care professionals and 400 IT firms with a foothold in health care, CTIA found strong mobile adoption in the health care industry.

As far as which devices they're using, 75 percent of doctors prefer the Apple iPhone and iPad, Manhattan Research reports.

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