In recent years, the expansion of mobile health (mHealth) technologies, including health text messaging, mobile phone apps, remote monitoring and portable sensors, have changed the way healthcare is being delivered in the U.S. and globally. The potential to provide citizens with an unprecedented level of access to health resources can help HHS achieve its goal of a healthier and more secure nation.
HHS had been actively involved in mHealth activities over the past 5 years and there are a number of ongoing mHealth efforts throughout the Department. In light of these activities, as well as, HHS’s desire to strategically encourage and/or develop future health text messaging and mobile health programs, HHS formed Text4Health Task Force to provide recommendations to the Secretary. In addition to providing recommendations and guiding principles, the Task Force was charged with identifying both ongoing initiatives and proposals for feasible new projects which would deliver health information and resources to users' fingertips via their mobile phones. Read the recommendations
HHS has launched several mHealth initiatives that have been guided by the HHS Text4Health Task Force:
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health has launched the SmokeFreeTXT program, a mobile smoking cessation service designed for teens and young adults across the United States. The service is an extension of the core smoking cessation website,www.smokefree.gov, which consistently reaches between 70,000 – 100,000 visits on a monthly basis. Teens and young adults who wish to stop smoking can enroll in this program by going to the link: http://smokefree.gov/smokefreetxt/default.aspx.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has launched TXT4Tots, a public text messaging library which provides evidence-based information on nutrition and physical activity targeted to parents, providers, and caregivers of children ages 1 – 5 years. Content for the messages was derived from HRSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents. The library is available for use at www.hrsa.gov/healthit/mhelath.html.
HHS Office of Minority Health has launched a collaborative effort in partnership with American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), AT&T, and Baylor University to investigate the use of smart phones’ secure video streaming by demonstrating live clinician/community health worker directed diabetes self-management education courses (see: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=9109&lvl=1&lvlID=10). These courses, accompanied by text prompts/reminders, will be offered in healthcare provider shortage areas.
HHS has partnered with the White House to launch the Apps Against Abuse developer's challenge (http://challenge.gov/HHS/199-apps-against-abuse). This national competition called upon technology developers to create innovative applications that will offer young adults a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring. This application is a first step in encouraging young adults to take an active role in the prevention of dating violence and sexual assault.
Furthermore, HHS is establishing a mHealth (mobile health) Community of Practice (CoP), open to all HHS staff, which will assist in an evaluation of mHealth activities and practices across the department. The HHS mHealth CoP will continue the momentum and ground-breaking work started by the Task Force and will be open to all HHS staff. HHS staff can sign-up for the mHealth CoP listserv and receive additional information at: https://list.nih.gov/cgi-bin/wa.exe?SUBED1=HHS_MHEALTH_COP.
Other initiatives related to the Task Force recommendations include the HHS text4baby evaluation, the ONC public-private partnerships in the Beacon programs, the Text Alert Toolkit for emergency response, and the ONC mHealth Privacy and Security Consumer Research. Learn more about the initiatives.
Other HHS resources on mHealth:
NIH National Library of Medicine: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/
NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: http://www.nibib.nih.gov/HealthEdu/Discovery/DigitalDoctors
NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research: http://obssr.od.nih.gov/scientific_areas/methodology/mhealth/index.aspx