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HHS Text4Health Projects

The rapid proliferation of mobile phones and text messaging offers unprecedented opportunities to potentially improve the health of the U.S. population and reach traditionally underserved groups. The Task Force identified innovative health text messaging programs that currently exist or are currently in development. Below are descriptions of these programs. This list is not comprehensive, but highlights key HHS activities in health text messaging and mobile health.

I. HEALTH TEXT MESSAGING PROJECTS

Maternal and Child Care

A. Text4Baby: Winner of a 2010 HHSInnovates award, the ‘text4baby’ program is a public-private partnership that provides pregnant women and new mothers with free health text messages. HHS’ role has been to ensure evidence-based non-commercial messages and to evaluate the program. The results of the HHS evaluation are expected to be available in 2013.

HHS Contacts: Audie Atienza, PhD (audie.atienza@hhs.gov)

B. TXT4Tots: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) collaborated with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop a library of messages on nutrition and physical activity, based on the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents. TXT4Tots a library of short, evidence based messages focused on nutrition and physical activity targeted to parents and caregivers of children ages 1-5 years. The TXT4Tots library is designed as a resource that be incorporated into a wide variety of existing programs and platforms

HHS Contacts: Bethany Applebaum, MPH (BApplebaum@hrsa.gov) and Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, PhD (SMatoff-Stepp@hrsa.gov)

Tobacco Control

A. SmokeFreeTXT: The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) has designed SmokeFreeTXT as a free 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. TCRB developed and launched the SmokeFreeTXT initiative as part of a larger project to target and tailor cessation resources to teens and young adults who want to quit. The SmokeFreeTXT program delivers tips, motivation, encouragement and fact based information via unidirectional and interactive bidirectional message formats.

HHS Contact: Erik Augustson, PhD, MPH (augustse@mail.nih.gov)

B. QuitNowTXT: The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) has developed an interactive text messaging library and delivery algorithm for adults in the United States who wish to quit smoking. The QuitNowTXT text messages offer tips, motivation, encouragement and fact based information in unidirectional and bidirectional interactive formats. This message library is free and publicly available.

HHS Contact: Erik Augustson, PhD, MPH (augustse@mail.nih.gov)

C. SmokeFreeMoms: SmokeFreeMoms is a cross-HHS coordinated pilot project focused on providing pregnant women who wish to quit smoking with personalized, interactive and evidence-based health text messages. HHS partners include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). SmokeFreeMoms text message library will be made publicly available and posted on HealthData.gov.

  • Anticipated release date: Spring 2014.

HHS Contact: Sanjay Koyani, MPH (Sanjay.Koyani@fda.hhs.gov)

D. Health Alerts On-the-Go: CDC's health information is now available on your mobile device. Visit m.cdc.gov on your mobile phone or PDA for information on seasonal flu, H1N1 flu, public health emergencies, and more. This site is designed to be easily read and navigated from mobile devices and will soon feature even more health and safety topics.

HHS Contact: Carol Crawford, PhD (ccrawford@cdc.gov)

Emergency Response and Preparedness

A. Text Alert Toolkit: The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have developed a text message library for emergency response and preparedness. The messages, for voluntary use by state and local authorities, provide the public with reliable, credible and timely health information. Currently, the library has information on hurricane and floods. Future plans include adding CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosion) messages.

HHS Contact: Ira Dreyfuss (Ira.Dreyfuss@hhs.gov)

II. OTHER NOTABLE MOBILE HEALTH (MHEALTH) PROJECTS

Asthma/Respiratory Disease

A. Asthmapolis/ONC Beacon Community Collaboration: This is project being launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North Carolina Beacon Community and Asthmapolis, a company that provides GPS inhaler and mobile phone applications for patients with asthma. The program will also allow asthma patients to enroll in a text messaging program that will follow them after discharge.

HHS Contact: Aaron McKethan, PhD (Aaron.McKethan@hhs.gov)

Diabetes Education 

A. Diabetes mHealth Initiative: This project is a collaborative effort between the HHS Office of Minority Health, 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. These courses, accompanied by text prompts/reminders, will be offered in healthcare provider shortage areas. The results of this study are expected to be available in 2012.

  • See: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=9109&lvl=1&lvlID=10

HHS Contact: Commander David Dietz (David.Dietz@hhs.gov)

Privacy/Security Research 

A. mHealth Privacy and Security Consumer Research: HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is conducting focus group research to identify and explore the attitudes and preferences of a diverse sample of consumers with respect to the communication of health related information on mobile phones and devices, including text messaging. Results from this focus group research are expected to be available in 2012.

HHS Contact: Joy Pritts, JD (Joy.Pritts@hhs.gov)

Domestic Violence/Sexual Abuse Prevention 

A. Apps Against Abuse Developer’s Challenge: HHS partnered with the White House to launch the Apps Against Abuse developer's challenge. This national competition called upon technology developers to create innovative applications that 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.

HHS Contacts: Audie Atienza, PhD (audie.atienza@hhs.gov)

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