Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Text Messaging's Healthcare Applications

One of the topics I enjoy talking about in regards to Health 2.0 is the effect text messaging will have on healthcare. Intelecare already uses (and has used for 3 years) text messaging as one of the delivery methods for our patient /caregiver created medical adherence reminders. BJ Fogg at Stanford held a Texting4Health conference in February, where a number of uses for texting in healthcare were presented, such as texting for AIDS testing clinics, and a smoking cessation program. Other companies, such as WellSphere, are also using texts as way to transmit health related information - such as where you can find a health food store or gym in your immediate area.

I have been looking at trends in mobile advertising and text usage, but I didn't really think that it had reached this point.

According to eMarketer: "The average mobile subscriber in the US sent and received more SMS text messages than mobile telephone calls during Q2 2008, according to Nielsen. This was the second consecutive quarter in which the average number of text messages was significantly higher than the average number of phone calls."

This is simply outstanding. As you can see from the chart, it is not just the tweens and Millenials using texts. My X Generation still sends more texts, and the 56 + crowd even does it. The US is also still way behind the rest of the world.

Quick Story: In 1999 or 2000 I was on a ski trip with my half-brother, Ricardo, who grew up and lives in London. He was looking at his phone and punching buttons (he was 18 or so at the time). I asked what he was doing, and he said "texting my friends". I asked what that was, he explained, and I said "why don't you call them"? His answer was that it was simpler, cheaper, and he can do it on "the sly".

It took me up until last year to really embrace sending text messages. I started with simple texts like "running late" or "what are you up to", which led to more complicated answers to queries, directions, twitter updates, etc... Now instead of "call me" it is "text me".

The uses in healthcare, for me, are most readily available for tracking information like glucose readings (I think SugarStats uses this), blood pressure monitoring, etc... I don't think texting your physician will catch on so rapidly, but it can happen.

AJ Fortin has a great post from this spring: 101 Things to Do With A Mobile Phone in Healthcare.

What are other uses you can think of for texting in healthcare? Please add your comments!

1 comment:

Fred said...

The mobile phone is the next ripple out in the development of the virtual health care marketplace, or what I like to call - health care on-demand and in your pocket.