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Pew Mobile Health Survey

By November 2, 2010Commentary

The Pew Internet organization and the California HealthCare Foundation have conducted regular surveys regarding Americans’ use of mobile technologies for health care uses.  The 2010 survey, covering over 3000 people, was recently conducted and released.   (Pew Poll) As in prior recent years, the percent of adults with cell phones is quite high, 85% in 2010.  Out of these users, about 9% have a mobile health app on their cell that they use to track or manage medical issues.  As might be expected, young adults under the age of 30 are more likely to be using these apps than are older adults.  Interestingly, African-Americans and Hispanics have higher rates of app use than do Caucasians.  Use of apps does not vary significantly by income, although higher income groups are slightly more likely to use a health app.  Urban cell owners use medical apps more than rural or suburban ones.

About 17% of all cell phone users have looked up health information with the device.  For this purpose, Hispanics had the highest rate of use, and again, younger adults had high rates of information look-up, at 29% of cell owners, but the 30-49 year-olds also were significant users, at 18%.  Neither education nor income was a significant factor in use, although the trend was to more use as both education and income rose.  Notwithstanding the increase in cell phone use related to health issues, most people still turn mainly to providers, friends or family members when they are looking for health information.  If for no other reason than the continuing aging of a younger population that is comfortable with mobile technology, we can expect mobile health use to continue.  How much it becomes a core part of people’s health management is not yet clear.

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