Mobile Health Search

October 31, 2012 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

One of the most fascinating things about health apps is the process of selecting them: defining the need, determining how to search and which search terms to use, deciding which to consider, and deciding which to try. Having thought a lot about health app search, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to talk about the broader issue of mobile health search in a session at APHA12 on health information seeking.

My presentation first argued that it is almost impossible to focus only on laptops and desktops when considering health information seeking given the preponderance of mobile devices. I then talked about what mobile devices provide health seekers:

  • Immediacy and access
  • Affinity
  • Multiple methods of input/output
  • Context
As a taste of my talk, for affinity I said that the close, dare I say intimate, relationship many people have with their smartphones, has an impact on health searches. Affinity in combination with the greater privacy possible on a small screen are likely why people are more likely to search for information about sexually transmitted diseases and mental health. For context, I spoke about the role of the contextual information people see, hear, feel, and remember and how that impacts mobile health search; and how external information and data from sensors, such as weather, location, time of day, and blood pressure,  impact personalization and tailoring. I also challenged my audience to imagine if public health had the same resources as eCommerce for big data and predictive analytics. Instead of helping Target sell more products, timely and relevant information could help people live healthier lives.

My slides are posted here. Many thanks to Susannah Fox and John Mangano for sharing Pew and Comscore data respectively.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:

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