Mobile Health by the Numbers

Take a look at your smartphone and quickly count how many health-related apps you have. One in five reading this have at least one health app, and that number is growing quickly.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center reported that “the online health-information environment is going mobile” [1]. In 2010, 17% of cell phone users reported using their phones to look up health or medical information and 9% had apps on their phones that helped them track or manage their health. Flash forward to 2012 and those numbers have doubled. In 2012, 31% of cell phone owners reported using their phones to look for health information and 19% had at least one health app [2].

Translate those percentages into hard numbers and we’re talking about 33 million people that use their phone to search for health information and 20 million that have at least one health app. Mobile health — frequently called “mHealth” — has indeed found its market: smartphone owners.

Infographic: Healthcare On the Go

Franklin Street, a branding and advertising agency specializing in health and wellness, recently posted the infographic below on mobile health. It’s somewhat ironic that cell phones are the platform for mobile health given the health hazards of mobile devices. Nevertheless, mobile is still a big deal for healthcare. By the year 2015, it’s projected that 500 million people will have health-related apps on their smartphones [3].

Many healthcare-focused organizations are coming to the realization that more and more people are accessing their websites via mobile devices. Although they’ve been reluctant to embrace online advertising, as smartphones become more integrated in healthcare, advertising is following. Firms such as Franklin Street are encouraging these companies to invest in online health advertising and “get ahead of the curve.”

Digital marketing agency Heartbeat Ideas encourages its healthcare clients to put as much of their ad budget as possible into searches including mobile advertising [4]. According to Lee Slovitt, Heartbeat’s media director, “The return on investment [for mobile advertising] is much higher than radio or TV. If searchers are actively looking for information on a given condition or a specific drug, they are much more likely to respond to a commercial message.”

Healthcare On the Go

Via: Junto

References

  1. Mobile Health 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project. 2012 Nov 8.
  2. Mobile Health 2010. Pew Internet & American Life Project. 2012 Oct 19.
  3. Global Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015. research2guidance. 2010 Nov 10.
  4. As Smartphones Become Health Aids, Ads May Follow. New York Times. 2012 Apr 1.

Highlight HEALTH 2.0 – Year in Review 2008

As Highlight HEALTH 2.0 celebrates its’ first year following the use of Web 2.0 in health and medicine, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership.

Three websites make up the Highlight HEALTH Network:

Each of these sites has a different purpose. Highlight HEALTH 2.0 is focused on new ideas in health and medicine (if you’re interested in writing a review about a social health network or co-blogging about the integration of Web 2.0 technologies into health and medicine, please let us know). Highlight HEALTH promotes advances in biomedical research to encourage health literacy. Lastly, the Highlight HEALTH Web Directory is an online reference guide for reliable health and medical information.

There are more ways than ever to connect with the Highlight HEALTH Network, including email/RSS, Twitter and Facebook. Highlight HEALTH 2.0 is also optimized for the mobile web.

If you enjoy the articles and reviews here at Highlight HEALTH 2.0, I’d like to ask for your continued support.

… and above all, please continue to read and participate.

Top 5 most popular articles

Here are the most popular articles for 2008 (top 5 based on the number of page views/number of days posted):

  1. Online Patient Community Battle for Survival: MDJunction
  2. iMedix: Reliable Health Search and Patient-to-patient Social Network
  3. Mednar Search … and Hope said, “It is good.”
  4. Following the Tweets of Health
  5. Core Biomedical Research Software and Web 2.0 Tools

Thank you and Best of Health in the coming year!

Review of Mednar Search

This article was written by Hope Leman.

Mednar is here and it is good. Check it out medical librarians, public library staff, academic librarians who do life science searches, busy front-line clinicians, clinical researchers, medical school faculty, power searchers generally in the health sciences and anybody, indeed, who wants quick, authoritative results in health searching. Yet another impressive achievement of the firm Deep Web Technologies, which already has a stellar record of achievement providing the underlying technology of Scitopia.org, Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org and the brand new Biznar, a free, publicly available business research site. Check that one out, too.

Why is the firm called Deep Web Technologies and what is federated search, which is its specialty? Federated search is simply the capacity to search several online resources at the same time. The Deep Web is also called “The Invisible Web” and consists of gray literature and similar hard-to find content, such as heavy duty science and medical databases that the average search engines don’t tend to provide results from. That is where Deep Web Technologies comes in. Professional societies and the big players in federally-funded science search rely on it. It delivers sleek, elegant interfaces and solid search results. I like its stuff a lot. That is why I am up at 4:23 a.m. playing with it rather than sleeping before I have to get ready for my day job at around 7 a.m. Good technology should be exciting and something that compels you to get out of bed to go seek information about subjects you care about. Therefore, scientists, medical people and people who are ill or who love someone who is driven to seek information should take a spin in Mednar and the other products of Deep Web Technologies. They are the must-have tools of today and tomorrow.

Okay, enough rhapsodizing (couldn’t help it — it is that good). Why do I like Mednar so much?

Well, as someone who works in a medical library and spends many happy hours working in the kingdom of medical search tools, PubMed, I am always interested in seeing what else is out there in health sciences search. One thing I liked right away about Mednar was how it easy it was to set up an email alert on the latest results on my subject of choice, in this case my consuming interest amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I have been receiving daily updates of the latest research on that subject from Mednar and they are quite fascinating. Now that might some strike some as not particularly novel or exciting (think Google Alerts), but it is really surprising how few options one has in terms of current awareness of authoritative (where Google falls down) daily bulletins and it never hurts to supplement the services one can get from PubMed. The one glitch in the email alerts is that when I click on some of the options I am taken to the log-in page of a resource I may not subscribe to. But at least I get the title to work with and can use other avenues to learn more about an article I might never have learned about otherwise. And if you follow a rare disease or even a common one that is making your life miserable, you don’t want to run the risk of missing out on key developments.

In that regard, Mednar is an extremely useful complement to PubMed in that there is a lag time before the very latest articles get into PubMed. Everything is vetted to the nth degree before it enters the hallowed halls of PubMed and while that is desirable and necessary, it also prevents timely notice of interesting developments or awareness of perhaps ultimately insignificant but nonetheless interesting, thought-provoking developments. By contrast, Mednar include among its results EurekAlerts and identifies them by the institution (e.g. Brandeis University) or organization (e.g. the American Academy of Neurology) that the press release concerned is discussing so that you don’t click on something of little interest. That’s an excellent way to monitor where the centers of research activity are in certain medical conditions and an easy method of keeping up in an engaging, entertaining way on what is happening now instead of waiting for a meta-analysis to appear in PubMed two years hence. You can learn a lot from press releases. For instance, in my search through the EurekAlerts in my search on ALS I came across this result about a touching article in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, something I might not have encountered otherwise. What I want from a search engine is for it to tell me something I don’t already know or that I would not have learned about from one of its rivals. Mednar does all of that.

Additionally, Mednar provides results by author, which enables users to quickly determine who seems to be the leading authority in a given field or at least someone who has published quite a bit in it.

Mednar also is a forgiving, patient envirnoment. For instance, I tried “proteomics in nephrology” but that resulted in much extraneous stuff. I then tried just “proteomics nephrology” and got tons of useful material. That is the mark of a good search engine. If you bumble and fumble and get nothing, trying different wording improves matters. Mednar definitely is on its way to becoming an outstanding launch pad for medical subject searching and it easy to see why frugal but astute purchases of services for government scientific agencies, demanding overseers of the databases of scientific societies and university libraries turn to Deep Web Technologies for prowess in search technology. Those are not easy audiences to win over and it has consistently done that. This is the state-of-the-art stuff, folks.

I wish had the brains of its CEO, Abe Lederman. I am in jaw-dropping, stupefied awe at the general excellence of the products of his firm. Anything that saves all of us time as we hunt for relevant data amidst overwhelming amounts of information on every conceivable aspect of disease day after day catches my attention and it has been caught today by Mednar. It searches many databases that PubMed and NLM Gateway do not, let alone other commercial search engines. That alone is a public service and I fondly hope that Elsevier and Springer and the other sci-tech publishers will start to see the value in working with innovative superstars in search and enlist them to render their superb content searchable. My wallet is open to good stuff in the sciences if I can find it and Mednar helps me find it. It is up to the sci-tech publishers to decide if they want to find eager, paying consumers of their content by working with Mednar. In the meantime, Mednar is educating us all about databases that we didn’t even know existed. Edifying those of us who like to think we know everything is noble work.

About the author: Hope Leman is a research information technologist for a health network in Oregon and is also Web administrator of the grants and scholarship listing service ScanGrants.

Additional health search resources are listed in the Highlight HEALTH Web Directory.

iMedix: Reliable Health Search and Patient-to-patient Social Network

The Internet is used by 75% of American adults to search for health or medical information online; 1 in 10 are searching for health information right now as you read this [1]. Indeed, the amount of information available on the Internet related to health and medicine is staggering. While much of it is credible, an equal or greater amount of misinformation also exists.

Reliable sources of health information are extremely important to online health seekers. Enter iMedix, a health 2.0 service that combines a healthcare search engine and social networking. iMedix provides health consumers a way to find medical information that has been filtered for reliability and rated by patients with similar interests.

imedix-logo

iMedix features

  • Search any medical condition, symptom, treatment or drug on top online health sources
  • Auto-complete and spell check search queries
  • Community ranked health articles
  • Health site reliability shown for search results
  • Ask questions about any health topic
  • Connect with people who share your health interests

The iMedix website makes it easy to transition between a reliable health web search, questions and answers asked in iMedix health communities and iMedix members — all with a single click.

Reliable Health Search

imedix-searchWhy use iMedix to search for health information instead of Google? Simple … reliability of search results. iMedix is a community-powered healthcare search engine, which combines a vertical health search engine with a patient-to-patient social network. iMedix uses proprietary algorithms to evaluate healthcare websites and rate top sources. Dozens of thousands of websites that are approved by top medical accreditation organizations such as HON (Health On the Net Foundation) or URAC (Utilization Review Accreditation Commission) are cataloged by iMedix. Individual site accreditation is indicated in the search results along with a clear indication of the source of each article. The iMedix community then provides feedback by rating those sources, further improving the ratings. Thus, users benefit from the collective medical knowledge and experience of the iMedix community.

To the right of the web search results, several members of the iMedix health community associated with the search term are shown. Community members can also be searched by selecting the “Members” link at the top of the search results. The right sidebar also displays questions related to the search term, making it easy for users to transition from a web search to searching questions and answers posted by the iMedix community. Questions and answers can also be searched by selecting the “Q&A” link at the top of the search results. These three sections — web results, questions and answers, and iMedix members — are transposed with the user’s selection. If the user chooses web results, community members and related questions are shown in the sidebar. If the user chooses community members, related questions and web results are shown in the sidebar. iMedix thus allows a user to take a search term and, with one click, query three different data spaces.

The iMedix search engine supports the “AND” operator, allowing for complex searches with multiple parameters. Although you can use the iMedix search engine without signing up, you won’t be able to communicate with iMedix members nor ask or answer questions from the various health communities.

iMedix Health Communities

Although iMedix began as a blogging platform for patients, it has evolved into a patient-to-patient social network. iMedix health communities enable people to share and discuss their health issues with others. Currently, there are ~2000 communities, which iMedix plans to consolidate in the future. Popular communities are shown on the iMedix homepage. Users can easily sort health communities by disease, symptom or drug and browse them alphabetically.

iMedix users can “tag” themselves by indicating health interests in their profile. Many tags are used by iMedix to assign users to health communities, connecting them to other members with similar interests. Additionally, users can browse member profiles to find other users that share a health interest.

Asking a question is as simple as typing it in the “Ask Our Community” box on the right side of the page. The iMedix system extracts keywords and tags, and immediately distributes your question to relevant members. Questions and answers are moderated by community leaders as well as by the community itself. iMedix notifies you as soon as you receive answers to your question. Each answer that is given to a question can be rated by other users, giving it a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. Individual answers can also be reported for abuse.

I found user answers to be a mixed bag. Some answers were informative while others … not so much. As with any social network, you take the good with the bad. Like other online social communities, users can “friend” other members, adding members that they find interesting or well informed to their friends list.

What was notably absent was conversation. People with health problems want to talk and share with others that have similar issues. If you’re familiar with Internet forums or messages boards, you’ll be disappointed in the lack of such an application on the iMedix website. However, iMedix users can chat in real time or send offline messages to one another through a private messaging system. There may be an abundance of conversation between patients, but none of it is publicly accessible.

Where iMedix Shines

Immediately after iMedix launched, VentureBeat wrote a disparaging review of the healthcare-community site. Several comments seem overly critical; disapproving of the uncluttered homepage (wasn’t Google praised for its clean, sparse interface?) and skeptical at the lack of a business model. Indeed, when iMedix launched in December 2007, a press release described a direct-to-consumer advertising channel whereby iMedix would connect pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and medical organizations with highly targeted consumers, i.e. iMedix users [2]. The iMedix Privacy Policy clearly states that they “will occasionally send you information on products, services, special deals and promotions”. Note that iMedix provides the ability to ‘opt-out’ of having personally identifiable information used for certain purposes. Other comments seemed to state the obvious: “In effect, iMedix users have only two sources of information — the intermittently useful search function and individual conversations with other users.” While VentureBeat thought it gave the site a “conspicuously information-deprived feel”, I think it highlights the utility of iMedix: filtering out all the noise and misinformation in online health information and presenting a clean, uncluttered and well-organized health search results page.

Conclusion

I really like iMedix and think it’s a great service that will complement the emerging use of of PHRs and genetic testing. As Susannah Fox described in the The Plausible Promise of Participatory Medicine:

For those internet users who are supplementing their doctor’s advice with health information found online, search is the first stop for most e-patients. Search is the de facto second opinion in the United States and search results often include user-generated content such as blogs, discussion groups, and Wikipedia.

Social media is not just stumbled upon by searchers; it is a starting point for many people. This trend is hard to measure since a lot of user-generated content has become “wallpaper” technology for many people — they absorb it without noticing it. But community is powerful and always has been. Technology makes this basic instinct easier to fulfill.

I’ve written previously about the Trust and Credibility of Healthcare Blogs. Indeed, I think about the credibility and reliability of internet-based health information all the time. It’s the principle reason why I include links and list references in all my articles. Although presentation trumps content online today, I think health seekers are becoming more savvy and looking beyond website design for impartial and verifiable sources of information. iMedix makes finding those sources of information easy.

iMedix has been in beta for 10 months. In a May 2008 interview with CenterNetworks, iMedix co-founder and CEO Amir Leitersdorf said that the healthcare-community site had more than 500,000 users each month and, with the help of the iMedix community, had ranked and re-organized more than 20 million health articles [3]. In July 2008, the company announced its first major media partnership and will be powering the search capabilities of PARADE.com’s health section [4]. It will be interesting to see how iMedix develops over the next year as its user base continues to grow and mature.

References

  1. Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking surveys. March 2000 – May 2008. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Last updated: July 22, 2008. Accessed 2008 Oct 12.
  2. iMedix Unveils Community-Powered Health Search Engine. Reuters. 2007 Dec 10.
  3. Interview With iMedix’s CEO Amir Leitersdorf and CMO Iri Amirav. CenterNetworks. 2008 May 20.
  4. PARADE.com Partners With iMedix to Enhance Health Portal. Reuters. 2008 Jul 23.

Health Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

This article was written by Matthew Krajewski.

If Web 1.0 was about being told what the best information for you was (like the flat top 10 results on Yahoo! or Google), then Web 2.0 is about giving more control to the individual and inviting them to participate in the world of information.

Letting users start conversations or organizing information to the benefit of the end user are two outputs of the Web 2.0 evolution. So what is Web 3.0?

health-search.jpgAn article in ReadWriteWeb recently attempted to define Web 3.0, the semantic web based on personalization and recommendation. Web 3.0 may become quite adept at trying to algorithmically match you romantically, like a modern version of the 1950s board game Mystery Date, and some companies have already made significant headway in recommendation and personalization, such as Pandora and their music recommendation jukebox-like interface.

Will health ever benefit from the semantic web? Perhaps. Nothing is impossible, but it’s hard to imagine a computer will ever know how to deal with queries like:

“I hurt and don’t know why.”
“Why won’t my wound heal?”
“Should I be worried about menstrual bleeding during pregnancy?”

These questions deal with the core physical nature of human beings and the nuances and language to express physical experience is so wide that Web 3.0 may never build the right bridge.

However, Web 2.0 — with intelligent interaction flow — can make answering the afore mentioned questions much easier. By categorizing the scary wilds of the web for an end user, it makes searching that much smoother.

Kosmix, the creators of RightHealth, have created a categorization technology that simplifies the web. This categorization of information is important for online health search, where the nature of queries can be intensely personal.

Asking a person concerned about his/her health to plough through homogenous search results is just plain cruel. Categorize the information, build your interaction flow around that categorization, and you’ve already helped make the mystery of a health question easier to understand. Web 2.0 puts the user or the user’s needs at the center of the product, at least when it’s done right.

Being smart about categorization and interaction flow is more than just dressing up search results. Standard search results will require a user to determine for themselves what is a trustworthy source and what is plain spam. RightHealth treats the categorization of health information much like how an editorial health site would treat their articles: insuring results are relevant, trustworthy and of value to the end user.

The user interaction associated with these valuable results is just as important, exploiting the value of Web 2.0 sensibility in order to be smarter about how health searchers interact with information to better understand their health. In Health Web 2.0, the user is just as important as the information they are trying to access. Building those bridges correctly is the way to effectively evaluate the quality of a Health 2.0 website.

About the author: Matthew Krajewski is a writer for The Kosmix RightHealth Blog, which uses information obtained through the RightHealth search engine to provide insightful posts about health-related news and issues.

Additional health search resources are listed in the Highlight HEALTH Web Directory.