Posted By Abhi Muthiyan On August 14, 2014

How texting is benefiting public health

Blog Posted: August 14, 2014

Public health leaders are embracing new technologies, like mobile apps and texting, and using them to be innovative with their outreach approach to the local population. Through innovative new services, public health departments are expanding their reach at dramatically lower costs. They are finding new ways to improve population health and increase engagement with patients. As you read this article, think how your local health department can take advantage of texting in combination with federally mandated Electronic Health Record (EHR) software.

According to the Internet & American Life Project study done by the Pew Research Center, of the 91 percent of American adults who own cell phones, 81 percent use their phones to send or receive text messages. This makes texting an incredible tool for reaching citizens across the nation, regardless of their location, demographics or employment status. Texting has now brought out a new and innovative way to promote the health of women, infants and children, which is particularly of interest for those in public health.

Text4baby is a free supportive text messaging service targeted toward women undergoing pregnancy for the first time as well as mothers with infants less than one year old. As of July 1, 2014, more than 733,972 mothers have enrolled in Text4baby. The service shares data and best practices around how to keep babies healthy. The messages that are delivered to users are relevant and tailored based on where she is in her pregnancy or what stage of development the baby is going through. Some of the topics covered in these messages include: nutrition, labor and delivery, infant care, smoking cessation, developmental milestones, immunization, family violence, and safety. Mothers who sign up will receive roughly three messages per week on these topics as well as occasional alerts or breaking news updates linked to child and maternal health.

The “State of the World’s Mothers” report featured by the humanitarian group Save the Children displays the United States as having the highest first-day infant mortality rate of any other industrialized country. A huge factor for this high death rate is the lack of access to medical care that mothers in poor, rural areas are receiving. As stated by the President and CEO of Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, “Babies born to the poorest mothers are 40 percent more likely to die than babies born to wealthy mothers.”

To help address this alarming nationwide issue, a public-private partnership of more than 1,200 health departments, academic institutions, health plans, businesses, and the federal government has come together to make the Text4baby service happen.

Spread the news today to women who could benefit from this informational and very supportive service.

For more information on this program, or to sign up, please visit: