More on Health Texting

December 7, 2007

It may seem like a gimmick, but there is serious money being invested around the world in setting up systems to send mobile phone text messages for a variety of health situations. Some companies are beginning to capitalize on the concept by selling a service that companies can then provide to their employees or customers. They will send text, email or voice-mail messages reminding users to take their pills, refill prescriptions, get to appointments or check vital signs such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels. Interested parties include drug companies, insurers and large employers hoping to improve efficiency and decrease absenteeism and next year, a direct-to-consumer service is being launched that for $60 a year will offer you a personal email, text or voice-mail reminder about prescriptions and appointments. In the older age groups, 60 plus, they showed little interest in the service as generally that age group are more averse to using new technology.

The advantages are fairly clear. Text messaging is fast, cheap and private. Unlike voice mail, it is easier to recall and easier to respond to. In England, women have received text reminders to take their birth-control pills, and Rifat Atun, professor of international health management at Imperial College in London, says several hospitals in England already text-message appointment reminders and test results. AIDS patients are helped to keep to adhere to complicated drug regimens by text in Australia, and German researchers are examining how text messages can offer psychological support to bulimics.

The San Francisco Health Department started a texting service for sexual-health information last year, in response to rising venereal disease rates among adolescents and young adults. A text-message number was extensively advertised on posters, and on public transport and urged young people to call and they will get texted responses to common questions. This is similar to a programme running in the UK aimed at the same age group, and in case you wanted to know, the top three messages that were accessed by users were:

1 “what 2 do if ur condom broke,”
2 “2 find out about STDs,”
3 “if u think ur pregnant”

For the older generation, yes I do know how to spell, and those messages are exactly as they appear on the phone! It’s why I struggle with texting, I spell everything in full which takes me so long it’s much quicker just to phone someone!


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...