Cell phones are finding their own niche in the health literacy world.
According to Pew Research Center, more than 90 percent of adults in the United States now own a cell phone, with 63 percent of them smartphone owners.
As mobile phone usage continues to evolve, there’s an industry emerging behind the use of mobile devices to both simplify health care and improve health literacy.
Simply put, these ubiquitous, powerful devices offer their owners new ways to stay healthy, while empowering them to stay on top of their health care. There’s a large, growing, and directly accessible market to tap into, and companies are finding that there’s huge demand for solutions that can simplify health and well-being for their customers.
The solutions vary greatly, but they all hold promise. For example, where companies like Life Alert once provided a way for fall-risk patients to easily press a button to notify emergency services that they’d fallen, Watch My Step, an app under development, detects falls and sends text messages automatically, features built-in GPS to find fall victims more easily, and even reminds users to take their medicine.
Health insurance companies are also getting in on the action, as customers seek convenient, user-friendly ways to stay on top of their insurance. Companies like Aetna, United Healthcare, and Cigna, among others, are enjoying unprecedented access to their customers with apps that allow users to view account balances and personal health records, look up claims, and keep their information organized.
And the fun isn’t limited to just smartphones. One of Health Literacy Missouri’s own projects involves circulating a series of text messages on a number of health topics to youth, parents, and school faculty. The project aims to spread awareness on these issues, while gauging the effectiveness of using these targeted messages as a way to disseminate information.
These solutions are all promising, and the mobile world continues to grow. Only time will tell what the future brings to mobile health care development, and with advancing technology continuing to innovate in health care and well-being, it’s quickly becoming apparent that mobile devices can be a viable and powerful health literacy tool.