Mobile is 'new frontier' of health information

A decade ago, Susannah Fox, the healthcare guru for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, wrote about a "revolution" in online healthcare. "Ten years later, I am ready to declare the access revolution over, at least in the United States. It's time to change our frame of reference," Fox said Monday at the Mayo Clinic. Instead of talking about a revolution, our data shows that it is time to start building a new civilization."

According to Fox, mobile technologies have "erased the digital divide." 

"In 10 years we have seen the Internet go from a slow, stationary, information vending machine to a fast, mobile, communications appliance that fits in your pocket," Fox said. "Information has become portable, personalized and participatory. In fact, as we have watched the rise of wireless access, we've identified an effect that we're calling 'the mobile difference.'

"Once someone has a wireless device, they are more likely to use the Internet to gather information, share what they find and create new content," she added.

Even with so much information now widely available, healthcare organizations have the opportunity to become a "trusted entity" that consumers so sorely need, according to Fox. "Here's your opportunity: People are still often looking for, and linking to, authoritative source material. Make it easy and attractive for people to link to you. Seed the online conversation with data, with science, with evidence. You can't control the conversation, but you can be part of it," she advised.

It is human nature for people to share information, and that is exactly what they are doing online today. "Healthcare has a marvelous opportunity tap in to our ancient instincts to share and our modern ability to do so at Internet speed," Fox said. "Build on the new frontier. Build on the power of mobile."

For more:
- read Fox's prepared comments