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Survey:Traditional Communications Channels Still Beat Mobile for Healthcare Marketing & Advertising

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
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Mobile Health 2010: Still Trailing Traditional

The intersection of healthcare marketing and technology is a busy corner with lots of activity – shiny new toys, much fanfare, and an occasional dash of confusion.

BUT – and this is a big “but” for marketing and advertising professionals – BUT traditional communications channels still dominate the search for health information over mobile health.

There’s no doubt that the proliferation of technology is reaching deeply into many sectors of the medical and health care marketing world. In one form or another technology and the up-swing in mobile health is touching hospitals, doctors, physicians, surgeons, group practices, medical groups, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers – everyone.

But, as the folks at Pew Internet and American Life Project observed last week: 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.

This qualifying comment was part of the Pew report that: 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. Nine percent 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.

AND SO – the Pew people conclude: 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. The survey finds that technology is not an end, but a means to accelerate the pace of discovery, widen social networks, and sharpen the questions someone might ask when they do get to talk to a health professional.

And for those of us in hospital advertising and PR, doctor/physician marketing, group practice, medical device, and healthcare marketing: “Technology can help to enable the human connection in health care and the internet is turning up the information network’s volume.”

The trend is clear, the new stuff is gaining acceptance. But traditional channels are alive and well. Where are you on this adoption curve? Your comments are welcome.

Reference: Pew Mobile Health 2010

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