Put moms at the top of your patient-targeted mHealth initiatives

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Gender (and parenthood) should be two key factors in your choice of which hospital functions to take mobile. A new study shows that moms are grabbing mobile connectivity at record speed, and using their smartphones for a growing variety of health tasks. Add to that the established understanding that women make most health decisions for their families and you've got a triangulation of mHealth crossfire with moms at the center.

For CIOs, it means that as you consider which departments need mobile functionality aimed at patients, consider that you won't necessarily be targeting a 20-something techno-nerd playing with his Android apps. Instead, your mHealth patient is most likely a busy mom looking to reduce hassle and speed response to health queries. So focus first on pediatrics, personal health record access, scheduling, patient portals, and other mom-friendly access points.

The smartphone screen is more intimate than any other medium out there today. The majority of moms sleep with their cell phone next to their bed and more than half check their phones first thing in the morning and last thing before they go to sleep. You can't say that about any other medium, syas Tina Sharkey, president of the Website, BabyCenter. Mobile isn't just a media channel. It's her constant companion that makes juggling easier. It makes her feel like a better mom.

Overall smartphone use by moms has skyrocketed 64 percent in just the past two years, according to the 2011 Mobile Mom Report released by BabyCenter.com late last week. Even more important: A full 33 percent have used their smartphone for health and wellness in the past month, which is 50 percent more than the average user, according to the study. Moms spend most of their online mobile time tracking their family's health (60 percent) as well as researching health conditions (90 percent).

One interesting note: Moms are particularly likely to respond to mobile-generated calls to action. The Mobile Mom study says that 46 percent of moms have taken action after seeing an ad on their smartphone, which could make mobile (rather than print or email) a key outreach channel for not only outcomes, but also fundraising, community health alerts and other hospital marketing efforts. - Sara