More health professionals are exploring the use of mobile technologies, especially mobile phones, in their research and programs. However, many of them never get pass the 'gee whiz, new technology' phase and consider how to use mobile for innovative and scalable behavior change.
A couple of years ago I was invited to write an article on mobile technologies and public health from a marketer's perspective. Today, I received a note that it is the most downloaded article of all articles published in the journal in 2009 and 2010.
"On behalf of SAGE, I would like to congratulate you on this achievement and your contribution to the continued high quality and impact of this journal. To enable you to share this achievement with your friends and colleagues we have made your article free to access via the following URL in perpetuity so that they can read your article too."
Here's a closing excerpt from the article. You can now read it in its entirety whenever and where ever you like (I wonder how long 'perpetuity' is on the internet).
They are more than a communication device—they can become marketing tools that address all elements of the marketing mix when strategically considered in the context of how people use them. Cell phones are an always-on, two-way communication channel, a signal or cue for action, a resource of instant access to health information, a tool for social support and the development of social capital, a production tool, a way to engage audiences, and a data collection and feedback device…
As public health professionals, we need to adapt and change not only the technologies we use in our programs but our framework for looking at the world and thinking about what we do. In designing interventions that will effectively lead to behavior change, we have to ask ourselves as social marketers and public health professionals (a) do we harness the technology to educate people about issues and problems that are relevant and meaningful to them (not us), (b) is what we do engaging them in positive and meaningful ways with the technologies that they use, (c) is there an entertainment value to our offerings, (d) do people believe and feel empowered as a result of their experiences with our programs (products and services), and (e) do we take advantage of every opportunity to let our customers and clients become our evangelists and leverage these new social and mobile media? If we fail to do all five, we are failing them and ourselves.
Thank you to all the people who have already discovered and downloaded it. Now it's your turn. And, of course, feel free to pass it along.
Lefebvre, R.C. (2009). Integrating cell phones and mobile technologies into public health practice: A social marketing perspective. Health Promotion Practice; 2009:490-494.