The online health-information environment is going mobile, particularly among younger adults. The Pew Internet Project’s latest survey of American adults, conducted in association with the California HealthCare Foundation, finds that 85% use a cell phone. Of those:
- 17% of cell owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 29% of cell owners ages 18-29 have done such searches.
- 9% of cell owners have software applications or “apps” on their phones that help them track or manage their health. Some 15% of those ages 18-29 have such apps.
This means that health-information searches and communications have joined the growing array of non-voice data applications that are being bundled into cell phones. Fully 76% of cell phone owners (age 18+) use their phones to take pictures, for example, up from 66% in April 2009. Seven in ten cell phone owners send or receive text messages; four in ten access the internet on their phones. In addition, 35% of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones (but only one in four adults actually use them).
Even with the proliferation of mobile and online opportunities, however, most adults’ search for health information remains anchored in the offline world. 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