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Text Message Medicine: A Tip From the Developing World

What's the Latest Development?

To decrease the cost of American health care services, and improve the lives of patients who receive them, medical professionals are taking lessons from the developing world, where low-cost treatment is a basic requirement. "At St. Gabriel's Hospital in Malawi, for example, 75 community health workers were trained to use text messages to communicate patient information, appointment reminders, and other health-related notifications to patients. Through this mobile health, or mHealth, initiative, the hospital saved approximately 2,048 hours of worker time and $3,000 in fuel, while doubling the capacity of the tuberculosis treatment program."

What's the Big Idea?

A unique benefit that text messages enjoy, for now, is their high rate of opening. People will generally read a text message they receive 97 percent of the time, compared to a rate of between 5 and 20 percent for emails. This compliments the general trend of inexpensive health care technology flowing from developing countries to developed ones. Patricia Mechael, the executive director of mHealth Alliance at the United Nations Foundation, said: "I [frequently] find myself giving talks in the U.S. about what America can learn about mHealth from Africa, Asia, and Latin America."

Read it at The Atlantic

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


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