More and more, U.S. adults are using their cell phones to obtain health information, according to “Mobile Health 2012,” a new study by The Pew Internet & American Life Project.
According to the study’s survey results released this month, one in three cell phone owners—31 percent—have used their phone to look for health information. This number has nearly doubled in two years. (Pew found that only 17 percent of cell phone owners had used their phones to look up health advice in a 2010 national survey.)
Naturally, smartphone users are leading this trend: Fifty-two percent gather health information on their Androids, iPhones and more, compared with just six percent of non-smartphone owners. For reference: 85 percent of U.S. adults own cell phones—53 percent of those being smartphones, according to the survey.
But what about using mobile sites and apps to locate health services in California?
At the state government level, California currently offers nearly 40 mobile websites, all listed on ca.gov/Mobile. Health-related mobile sites developed by the state are primarily used for locating nearby services, such as drug and alcohol treatment and living centers. In some instances, users can also make payments via mobile sites like the Department of Child Support Services. Additionally, California offers more than 700 online transaction services like applications for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKS and more, which are all accessible via smartphone.
As far as traffic goes, the state portal—ca.gov—overall continues to see a big increase in mobile access, according to Robert Meza, Project Lead for California Mobile, Enterprise Solutions.
“Four years ago, the percentage of people accessing the state portal on a mobile platform was less than one percent. Now—after the mobility program was started—19 to 20 percent of our access is by mobile device, and this includes every type of phone,” he said. “That’s our goal—to ensure that users can access the portal using any device possible.”
Regarding mobile apps, The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that as of April 2012, 84 percent of smartphone owners had downloaded an app of any kind to their phone. By comparison, 19 percent have downloaded an app specifically to track or manage health. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular app types.
Most mobile software apps offered by the state are location-based, providing descriptions, addresses and maps to the nearest state parks, highway conditions and more.
Related to health, the California Department of Veteran Affairs offers its CalVet app, which includes comprehensive information on benefits for veterans like lists of healthcare services and facility locations, employment resources, housing and more.
The department contracted with Natoma and DVBE-Stanfield Systems to create the app, which launched in November 2011 and received an Honorable Mention in the Driving Digital Government State Government Category of the Center for Digital Government’s 2012 Digital Government Achievement Awards in August this year.
Department of Veteran Affairs CIO Christie Borchin relayed the success of the mobile app:
“As of Nov. 25, 2012, the app has been installed on 6,161 devices,” said Borchin, noting that 1,271 veterans have registered with CalVet via the app as of Nov. 27, 2012.
The California Technology Agency will discuss upcoming mobility projects at the Mobile Government Conference on March 28, 2013. More information can be found at www.cio.ca.gov.
To view The Pew Internet & American Life Project report “Mobile Health 2012,” visit www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Mobile-Health.aspx.