December 17, 2012

Is there hope for SMS health alerts?

Richard Fury, MD, of Kaiser Permanente emailed me recently, asking: “Is there any hope for SMS health alerts when patients are due for preventive care?  As you know, patients want this, we want to provide this, but without symptomatic incentives adoption is poor. Thoughts?”

I think there is hope for SMS health alerts targeting people under the age of 65 (and particularly those under 50). Look at the potential market:

Phone demographics

Figure 4

However, just 9% of cell phone owners say they receive any text updates or alerts about health or medical issues. (See: Pew Internet: MobileMobile Health 2012).

For more evidence, I recommend following the work being done at the Center for Connected HealthText4Baby, and txt2stop. I’m also interested in the SMS emergency alert systems set up by local, state, and federal governments — maybe they’ll prove the market for health alerts.

What other evidence would you recommend, either pro or con? Have there been failed attempts at SMS health reminders? Successes I didn’t name? Please post in the comments on my personal blog.