Today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has a fairly long article, by their standards, (section D, pg 1) on the use of cellphone text messaging to deliver health related information. Unfortunately, the article tries to cover too much ground going from texting for sex education info for teens in California to reminders for an appointment at your local spa to dieting and medication management.
Being hit with such a slew of possibilities left me wondering, “OK, now what?” Sure this looks interesting, but is there anyone doing it in a systematic fashion that can point to clinically and statistically relevant results? Based on the article it appears that no such study exists today but I am sure there is someone out there putting a proposal together for AHRQ funding to look at this issue.
But maybe we really don’t need such a study as it seems so intuitively obvious, particularly for the Generation Y-types out there, who text incessantly. For that generation, and maybe my own, who are slowly adopting text as a form of communication, this may be an ideal solution as it is fairly secure, can be automated, messages are short, and the message is delivered wherever you are, as long as you have your cellphone.
Now imagine this…
You have an online personal health record (PHR), but this PHR goes a step further than what we have today as this PHR offers a service, say for some nominal fee, whereby you can request a text message sent to your cellphone alerting you on any number of health related topics. Text messages could range from alerting you of an upcoming appointment (no more calls from the doctor’s office), to a text telling you that the latest lab results are now available, to alerts for taking various medications at defined intervals, or maybe even information about a loved one for which you are the primary caregiver. In that last example, you certainly wouldn’t want a text message saying your mother just fell and broke her hip, but there is plenty of other information that you may wish to receive. All of these text notices are user defined, thus inherently relevant and could go a long way in making PHRs more relevant and sticky for the consumer.
I have yet to come across a PHR vendor offering such a service, but this makes such good sense, that there maybe something out there among the plethora of PHR solutions, I just don’t know about it yet. Appears, at least from the article, that the WSJ didn’t find any either as none of the examples provided were from a PHR vendor. One thing I do know, however, is that Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T were all at the recent Connected for Health symposium and it is only a matter of time before they start positioning their services for txtmed.