Image courtesy of Max Gladwell
By Bob Mason (@BobMasonPalio)
Foursquare, Gowalla and other mobile location-based apps are changing peoples behavior. “Checking in is gaining momentum as individuals use these applications to discover new places, people and information. According to Comscore statistics, 14 percent of all mobile users, or about 80 million people worldwide, access maps on their mobile devices regularly. Foursquare just announced their major milestone: surpassing 100 million check ins. As mobile technology and application development advances, more people are tapping into location-based services. Why? Because geo tracking – the science behind mapping objects in motion on a map is an exciting way to engage an audience, particularly in health care.
How does location-based information help?
Discover Places Around Every Corner Most people pack their prescriptions prior to traveling but there are times when you need a “vacation fill. Years ago, being in an unfamiliar area meant driving in circles to find a neighborhood drug store. Today, with applications like Foursquare, not only can people find the nearest location, they can also access reviews, promotions, tips and driving directions.
Imagine needing emergency medicine such as an epinephrine pen. A mobile device with a geographical information system can dynamically obtain information relative to its location and help people find the nearest pharmacy, check drug availability and get required medication in time.
Navigate to Where you Need to Go Most rental car companies offer GPS tracking devices for an extra fee and more smartphones come with GPS pre-installed. Travelers and first-timers can also use location-based technology to find the nearest hospital, chemo or dialysis facility or walk-in medical clinic.
Connect Environmental Concerns with State of Health Individuals that check in everywhere can uncover patterns that may provide insight about how their locations affect their state of health. Havent noticed yet that you stop at the pharmacy for Benadryl every time you leave Aunt Roses house?
Sight Before Seen Theres nothing worse than leaving the hospital or doctors office with prescription in hand (if your doctors not calling it in electronically) only to stand in a lengthy line waiting for it to be filled. Imagine using your handheld device to log in and see a live “cam shot to gauge line length and general store crowding. Shake Shack has it, why not your neighborhood Duane Reed, Walgreens or Longs?
Vocal instruction Sure, it sounds easy to remember how to care for a minor surgical wound when listening to the doctor, but how much do patients remember when they get home? Mobile phones with integrated voice recording capabilities can record custom instructions, alleviating patients from phoning office staff with routine questions.
Connect with a Community Newly diagnosed with diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome or breast cancer? Social media applications bring together like-minded groups from anywhere in the world, providing a forum for virtual support and exchange of ideas right from your iPhone, Blackberry or other handheld device. Want to meet in person? Location-based social apps can help you find people in your vicinity with the same concerns.
Like any emerging technology, location-based services have their pros and cons. One thing is for certain its changing how we shop, communicate and learn. Whether in an emergency or for routine medical advice, care and information, mobile-enabled users can tap into a great online experience that lets them get the information and resources they need, whenever theyre required.