In 2012, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report focusing on how people are using their cell phones to engage in real-time information seeking and sharing behaviors. Pew’s research revealed that 70% of adult cell phone owners had conducted “just-in-time” searches using their cell phones.
In our research, we have found that active digital health consumers are also engaging in real-time search for wellness and medical information. Moreover, this activity is not limited to the affluent. For example, we learned that nearly 40% of active digital health consumers making less than $30,000 per year (and who owned cell phones) used the Web frequently or very frequently to search for health information.
Much of the focus – in health and beyond – has been on the proactive use of devices such as the computers, cell phones and tablets to seek and deliver information in real-time. However, as I outlined in a previous Marketing:Healthessay, this situation is changing. I talked about how digital health content delivery systems could be deployed to provide people with relevant, personalized information when and where required. I also mentioned that a range of “start-ups and established firms are developing pieces of the data, device and information infrastructure required to operate this digital health content network today.” Since this piece was published, we’ve conducted additional research and have since discovered that just-in-time health information networks are more mature and widespread than I previously believed. In addition, this trend has important implications for health marketers and communicators.
Just-in-time Health Information Systems: What do They Look Like?
Just-in-time health information systems come in several flavors, including:
Examples of firms that have developed closed loop systems include Healthrageous, which supports behavior change via technology and content and Ginger.io, which has developed mobile applications that monitor well-being and deliver personalized health information at the population level.
One firm that is operating an open loop just-in-time health information system is Medivizor, which provides people with serious medical conditions with recent, personalized and understandable medical content.
These are only two of the types of just-in-time health information systems available currently or under development. Others can be used to leverage data about how people use mobile, social media and the Web to deliver relevant health content in real-time. These systems can also be used to make predictions about how content and media channels will shape perceptions and behaviors today and in the future. (My firm is engaged in work related to powering predictive personalized health content planning, deployment and measurement.)
Just-in-time Health Information Networks: Why Are They Important?
Just-in-time health information systems are important for health marketers and communicators because they:
1. Can provide new and powerful ways to deliver health information that people actually pay attention to and sparks action.
2. Can meet consumers’ unmet need for highly relevant and personalized content.
3. Are highly measurable given that it is possible to link content consumption with attitudinal and behavioral change.
4. May make it necessary to significantly change the methods we use to reach, persuade and inform providers, patients and consumers about health and medicine.
Learn More About Just-in-time Health Information Systems
In late July, we will release a premium report focusing on the rise of just-in-time health information systems. It will feature:
I will host a Webinar providing a high-level overview of the just-in-time health information trend on July 30. Attendees will also receive a free copy of our report. Ask me for details.