Health advice, support and information are now available on-the-go via text messaging services cropping up across the country, including one in Denver. Medical providers send text messages reminding patients of appointments or to take medications. Residents of some cities get health-related questions answered through text messages from public health agencies. And consumers are signing up for text message support for everything from weight loss to drug addiction.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, text messaging is a new development in telemedicine (textemedicine?), but it has some advantages over other media.
“Text messaging is fast, cheap and private,” writes WSJ reporter Rachel Zimmerman. “Unlike voice mail, it is easier to recall and easier to respond to. And unlike email, it doesn’t require a BlackBerry or other email device when people are on the go.”
One Denver company, LucidText, offers a motivational text-message service aimed at recovering addicts. Subscribers to My Mobile Sponsor receive messages such as, “One day at a time…or one hour at a time, or one minute at a time. Just stay focused on RIGHT NOW, and know that you CAN do this.” Or “Remember…self-righteousness can be a dangerous practice. Humility isn’t just a beautiful quality in people. It’s been known to keep people clean & sober.”
Receiving two text messages per day from My Mobile Sponsor costs $19.99 a month.
There’s not much evidence yet that motivational text messaging services work, although one 2005 study in England found that receiving supportive text messages doubled young smokers’ chances of quitting. But the health-text trend might not catch on with older generations not accustomed to receiving messages such as, “Write down 4 people who will get a kick outta u kicking butt. Your mum, dad, m8s?”