How mobile phones bring good things to life (and health)

Hello Better US Cellular…and I’m not talking about GE here (or here).

Most people (75%) still view phone calls as the communication mode that best bolsters their relationships compared with texting (66%), picture messaging (35%), sharing on social networks (31%), emailing (25%), , and video chatting (9%). U.S. Cellular, the mobile phone company, surveyed 527 customers in April 2013 to learn about how wireless communication can bring “Better Moments” to peoples’ lives. In particular, people say that mobile phones help them:

  • Communicate more frequently (77%)
  • Share experiences right away (66%)
  • Share moments that would have otherwise been missed (52%).

9 in 10 people take pictures on their phone.

But while people value their mobile phones, two-thirds admit to not fully understanding how to use all the features on their devices – and 31% of these people want to use more features but don’t know how to.

MobiHealthNews’ @jonahcomstock focused in on the health findings in the survey, learning that 10% of U.S. Cellular’s mobile consumers use their devices for health and fitness applications. Among these, 64% of people look up nutrition information, 61% track calorie intake, and 56% track physical workouts.

Overall, 16% of U.S. Cellular customers use some sort of food apps to help them eat healthier and 12% to plan and prep meals.

9% of the customers reported that wireless communications help them stay in better shape and 8%, lose weight.

10% of people used phones to help “successfully” manage a specific health issue.

Social health Edelman 2011Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Dr. John Mattison, the Chief Medical Information Officer of Kaiser Permanente, has said that mobile phones are the New Wellness Channel. The U.S. Cellular poll shows that a small proportion – about 10-20 percent of their customers – are using their phones and tablets to manage some aspect of health, wellness or fitness.

But today, anyway, 80-90% of people do not yet use mobile platforms for health. For now, people use mobile phones for social connections. Millions of health apps have been downloaded; few get regularly used over time.

Social connections are a determinant – a positive influence – on our health. The chart illustrates findings from the 2011 Edelman Health Barometer which found strong positive relationships between the people around us and our own health. Mobile communications connect us in all kinds of ways, and can bolster health beyond an app.

Until people connect the dots between social connections and their health — a profoundly powerful relationship when fully realized — mobile health will remain a largely untapped opportunity in the consumer market.


About Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist, advisor and trend-weaver to organizations at the intersection of health, technology and people. Jane founded THINK-Health after spending a decade as a health care consultant in firms in the U.S. and Europe. Jane’s clients are all stakeholders in health, including technology, bio/life sciences, providers, plans, financial services, consumer products, public sector and not-for-profit organizations. Jane founded the Health Populi blog in 2007, covering health policy, technology, and consumers.

One Response to How mobile phones bring good things to life (and health)

  1. July 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Jane, I think you’re spot on. And the more attention given to this issue by people like you, the faster we can adapt as in industry. We’re moving in the right direction indeed, but there’s loads of opportunities that have yet been brought to the forefront. We’re getting there.

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