Health With a Capital H
Mobile Is Everywhere—Even in the Most Remote Areas
August 13, 2012
Contributed by Ruth Ann Speir, Vice President, Information Services
Most of us know that the use of mobile devices is growing by leaps and bounds, especially among minorities. We’ve heard the statistics—93% of Hispanics own a mobile phone and 43% of those own a smartphone (web-enabled).
But did you think that remote agricultural workers are now considered sophisticated users of mobile devices?
I had the pleasure of attending the session, “Using Mobile Technologies To Connect the Disconnected” at CDC’s 2012 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, Georgia. I learned that research done by the University of California, San Francisco's School of Medicine showed that reaching the disconnected and “hard to reach” may be easier than we thought.
The study included 17 focus groups in 6 locations that consisted of 116 respondents who were considered low income, low English proficiency, and largely migrant farm workers. Participants weren't asked whether they owned a mobile phone prior to the focus groups.
Of those 116 people, all but 2 of them owned a mobile phone! And they were big users of text messaging, along with making videos and taking photos to send to their families back in Mexico.
- Indicated great interest in receiving health information via mobile phone.
- Would like to send text messages to and receive text messages from their doctors.
- Preferred to receive health reminders via mobile phone.
- Showed interested in using Skype with health care providers and were willing to pay for it.
Mobile technology can and is transitioning the access, delivery, and management of health care for underserved and hard-to-reach populations. Members of these populations have a thirst for health information so that they can lead healthy lives.