Advancement of technologies, such as smartphones, and the emergence of social media has given way to a new trend in health. There are many terms that can be used to describe this health trend, some call it mobile health or mHealth others call it digital health. Its name is irrelevant in the matter. What’s important to know is that this is a trend that potentially will reshape the landscape of healthcare. Jay Bernhardt, professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida stated, “Digital health will be revolutionary. It will be as transformative as vaccines and other innovations of the past.” mHealth trend A bold statement such as this suggests that mHealth should be incorporated into all health messages. And why wouldn’t be? Over 90% of the U.S. population owns cell phones. Cell Phone Usage As a healthcare advocate, if you had the ability to reach a large audience wouldn’t you? Most, if not all those involved in health care would answer yes.
Here’s a few things to consider with mHealth:
- This new trend requires a strategy. Party of this strategy will include determining who your audience is. Cell phone use among U.S. adults in nearing 90%. (http://www.publichealthnewswire.org/?p=8688) Wide use of cell phones makes the audience pool much larger. Understanding this you can now approach health leaders and confidently state mHealth will reach a large audience. Part of your strategy must include what is your desired outcome, what are you hoping to achieve? If you are just getting started with using this type of promotion, maybe attend a workshop to sharpen your knowledge.
- Messages should be brief. Nobody wants to read a four page text message. Keeping the message short while still delivering a powerful punch is key. Consider this type of communication more for promotion purposes than anything. For instance, promoting a blood drive or a daily health tip will keep your audience engaged while still providing valuable information. If your mHealth skills are where they should be your audience may just be motivating to search out other health information on their own.
- Know what makes mHealth fail and adjust accordingly. There are three reasons why mHealth fails: not knowing the full potential, no leadership buy-in, and poor strategy and communication What makes mHealth fail and succeed? Understanding these obstacles and acting on them greatly increases your chances of having a successful mHealth campaign. By getting leadership to buy-in, assessing resources, setting goals, developing a strategy, and measuring your successes and failures will provide you with the necessary support to make your mHealth campaign a success.
Our world is constantly shrinking. What once seemed impossible is now a part of everyday life. We have never been more connected as a race and with this comes great opportunity. There are a number of different ways we can address the public to promote health. The accessibility of cell phones makes mHealth more relevant than it has ever been before. It is the duty of those in healthcare to promote health. Understanding the cultural landscape of a population is critical to determine which form of promotion works best for the intended audience.