More Patients Using Mobile Devices to Access Health Information

75 Million Adults Now Use Mobile Phones for Health Information

Amanda Guerrero
Twitter: @meanusenetwork

Searching for health information online is the third most common activity for Internet users in the United States – and a growing number of those searches are being conducted on handheld devices rather than laptops and desktop computers. This is due to the fact that smartphone use is spreading and prices for tablets have become more accessible over the last few years.

According to Manhattan Research’s 2012 Cybercitizen Health report, which measures how consumers use the Internet, mobile devices, and other technologies for health activities, 75 million adults have used their mobile phones for health information this year, compared to 61 million in 2011. The report also found that almost twice as many adults are using tablets to access health information in 2012 (29 million) than they were a year earlier (15 million).

Other key findings:

  • Fifteen percent of adults own three devices (smartphone, tablet, desktop/laptop) and use at least one for health activities. Of this group, 60 percent use all three devices to access health information.
  • Approximately half of all tablet owners/users over the age of 55 are using their device for health-related purposes

Studies such as these show that patient interest is growing when it comes to healthcare issues, and that many view the Internet as a reliable source of information. This is one reason why it is so important for healthcare professionals to join social media networks, start blogging, or otherwise establish a presence online. Patients want health information, and who better to give them accurate health facts than their own doctors?

What health-related topics are users searching for?

The Pew Internet Project and California HealthCare Foundation found that Internet users search for the following topics online:

  • Food safety or recalls (29 percent)
  • Drug safety or recalls (24 percent)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth (19 percent)
  • Memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s (17 percent)
  • Medical test results (16 percent)
  • How to manage chronic pain (14 percent)
  • Long-term care for an elderly or disable person (12 percent)
  • End-of-life decisions (7 percent)

Amanda Guerrero is a content writer specializing in EHR, healthcare technology and Meaningful Use. In addition to maintaining her own health IT-related blog, she contributes to websites such as HealthTechnologyReview and