09 May Public Relations Perspectives on mHealth
Today, people are using mobile applications to proactively focus on wellness, monitor chronic conditions and improve their health in a multitude of other ways. This is called mHealth- the practice of medicine and public health, as supported by mobile devices.
As mHealth continues to evolve, individuals will participate more widely in conversations on social networks around personal medical issues. PR pros in the health and wellness space will inevitably become involved in projects with an mHealth component.
Doctors want patients monitoring their health on an ongoing basis:
- 88 percent of doctors would like their patients to monitor their health at home.
- 40 percent of doctors believe that mobile health technologies can reduce the number of office visits.
Patients are seeking health information online:
- 80 percent of Internet users look online for health information. (The Social Life of Health Information, 2011)
- 41 percent of patients go to social media for medical content and 94 percent of those people turn to Facebook. (National Research Corporation)
mHealth has the potential to reduce unnecessary physician visits:
- Research demonstrates that there will be 82 million tablet users by 2015, up from 10 million in 2010.
- Studies show that 500 million people will be using healthcare mobile applications by 2015.
Until the FDA issues its guidance on mobile health applications use common sense
mHealth is a relatively new space, and as such, it hasn’t been highly regulated. We’ve known that official regulations are a matter of time, and last week the Washington Post reported that the FDA will likely finalize its first ever guidance on mobile health applications later in 2012.
Until the FDA guidance is finalized public relations professionals need to make smart inferences based on past guidelines. It is the job of the PR pro to ask tough questions and communicate responsibly. Common sense and transparency should always take the front seat.
Utilize mobile data to target messaging
Mobile health applications will provide public relations pros with more concise data about their target audiences than ever before. Having this information won’t make for better messaging – understanding and properly utilizing the data will.
Mobile application data will help public relations pros create more relevant messaging and materials. Additionally, communicators will use this data to become the bridge between mobile application developers and end users. In some cases, mobile applications will be technically robust but end-users won’t have the technical savvy to make the most of the application. The best PR pros will understand how to use the data to translate the technology and simplify its usage.
Be invested in mobile application retention
Just as communicators focus on ensuring a piece of news retains momentum over time, successful PR pros will keep mobile applications at the top of the mobile marketplace.
Consider these stats:
- In March of 2011, 26% of all applications downloaded were opened once, and then never used again.
- A February 2012 article reported that 40 percent of consumers users would be willing to use a health application more than once a day if it was the right one.
With more than 17,000 mobile health applications currently available, PR pros will need to communicate application purposes to encourage downloads and the importance continuity for retention.
Proactively protect the brand
Especially in the diet and nutrition space; brands need to have a pulse on the information applications are spreading about their products. Brands need to be aware of unverified educational applications that share food grades with consumers. For example, we found a popular application that proclaimed a product we scanned was not all natural, as advertised on the package. Conversely, some applications such as Daily Plate by Livestrong product information by working with brands.
Public relations pros should monitor product information on all mobile applications in real-time and take corrective measures as needed.
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