mobile smartphoneHave you heard the one about the toothbrush and the mobile phone? The nearly-fabled statistic observes that: Among the six billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. (AdAge)

The counterpoint is amusing, but it’s a serious reminder that a mobile strategy needs to be considered with every healthcare marketing plan. Unfortunately, many hospitals and providers continue to overlook or underestimate the growing significance of cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

If you’re not selling toothbrushes globally, there are more meaningful numbers available for healthcare and medical marketing professionals. A new report, titled Mobile Health 2012, from our friends at Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reveals that:

  • Fully 85 percent of US adults own a cell phone
  • Half of smartphone owners use their devices to get health information
  • One-fifth of smartphone owners have a health app. (For exercise, diet, weight, etc.)
  • One in three cell phone owners (31 percent) have used their phone to look for health information. (Up from 17 percent two years ago.)
  • Smartphone owners lead this activity: 52 percent gather health information on their phones, compared with 6% of non-smartphone owners.

Not surprisingly, “Health status also plays a role. Caregivers, those who recently faced a medical crisis, and those who experienced a recent, significant change in their physical health are more likely than other cell phone owners to use their phones to look for health information.”

Four big tips about the little screen

Mobile tactics will vary according to the message, audience and platform, but some of the overarching techniques for effective use include:

  • Benefits Go First. Say what’s of timely value to the recipient. If they don’t see “what’s in it for them,” your message will be ignored or deleted quickly.
  • Think local. About half of all mobile searches are local. And “close and convenient” is an important decision factor.
  • Short is sweet. Viewing time is brief and there’s not much real estate on the small screen. Focus your message with precision.
  • Inspire action. Bridge your mobile message to a next step for the reader…to respond, react, share or call. Provide an incentive and make the action step easy and obvious.

Get moving with mobile healthcare marketing…

Your patients, prospective patients, family members and caregivers are mobile. You need to reach them where they routinely look for healthcare information. And by the time you turn the page on the 2014 calendar, all Internet consumption by mobile is expected to be greater than that of computers.

Roughly 75 million mobile phones in the US are actively used to access health and medical information, yet mobile marketing is often neglected in healthcare marketing. Watch for additional articles in this series, and to get moving on mobile, see the How to Get Started advice in this previous Healthcare Success article.


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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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