ED patients increasingly using new media

A large number of emergency department patients are embracing new media, from smartphones to tablets and apps, and such mHealth tools pose potential for providing healthcare beyond the ED visit.

The "critical mass" adoption can pave a new opportunity to improve public health, reveals a research paper, "The Prevalence and Characteristics of Emergency Medicine Patient Use of New Media," published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The research team, featuring physicians from the departments of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, notes that older ED patients are less comfortable with apps and texting tools, and that income status has a positive relationship with smartphone ownership and app use.

Smartphone and texting use, regardless of income, is most prevalent with Latinos and black non-Latinos, states the paper, which focuses on how new media is used in ED settings; the authors also investigate how mobile technology can potentially eliminate healthcare barriers. The study involved 5,994 patients who participated in face-to-face surveys for six weeks at a Southern Connecticut provider between July and August in 2012.

A recent Pew Research Center report reveals that more than half of today's smartphone users, 62 percent, are using their devices to obtain health information, and that today's smartphone may soon be tomorrow's mobile cancer detector given research on a high-resolution data imaging system that snaps onto a standard handset. In-depth analysis of mHealth-focused research studies reveals smartphone apps, text messaging and other digital technologies can decrease recurrence of cardiovascular illness and help those with cardiovascular disease have a healthier life.

In the JMIR paper, 89 percent of respondents say they own a cellphone, with 51 percent owning a smartphone. The older the participant, the less likely they are to text.

For more information:
- read the research paper