HHS Asks: R U Healthy? - InformationWeek
09:37 AM

HHS Asks: R U Healthy?

Department of Health and Human Services task force issues recommendations for health text messaging on mobile phones.

17 Leading EHR Vendors
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: 17 Leading EHR Vendors
In its attempt to promote public health through the use of text messages on mobile phones, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Text4Health Task Force this week issued recommendations to support health text messaging and mobile health (mHealth) programs.

The recommendations are part of HHS' plan to explore new initiatives that will capitalize on the rapid proliferation of mobile phone technology and platforms. The department is also trying to reach key demographics, including teens and minorities.

Eighty five percent of U.S. adults and 75% of teenagers own mobile phones, but only 17% use them to access health information, according to a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. African American cell phone owners are more likely than other groups to use health apps: 15% do so, compared with 7% of white and 11% of Latino cell phone users.

Dr. Joseph Kvedar, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, said his organization sees only growth in the use of text messaging for health information, especially in underserved populations. He described the Text4Health Task Force recommendations as "well thought out" strategies that will advance the use of text messaging to exchange health information among a wider swath of the population.

[Which healthcare organizations came out ahead in the IW500 competition? See 10 Healthcare IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500.]

"These recommendations suggest we've crossed the threshold of proof of concept and now need to examine and build the requirements for scale," Kvedar told InformationWeek Healthcare. To develop its recommendations, the Text4Health Task Force relied on information gleaned from programs such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's H1N1 Flu Text Messaging Pilot, the Text4Baby program, and research supported by the National Institutes of Health on the mDiet research program.

The Task Force urges HHS to:

-- Develop and host evidenced-informed health text message libraries to leverage HHS' rich and scientifically-based information.

-- Develop partnerships to create, implement and disseminate health text messaging and mHealth programs.

-- HHS should form a mobile health (mHealth) community of practice, initially led by HHS staff in the Office of the Secretary, that meets regularly to discuss and coordinate mHealth activities, including health text messaging, across the Department.

-- HHS should align health text messaging/mHealth activities with other HHS Health IT priorities such as support for electronic health records, cloud computing and health games.

-- HHS should conduct further research into the privacy and security risks associated with text messaging of health information and establish guidelines for managing privacy and security issues.

-- HHS agencies (FDA, NIH, AHRQ, ONC) should conduct research on future trends of text messaging technologies and establish regulatory guidelines for these interactive systems that can be used in treating, curing, mitigating or preventing diseases or conditions.

On a related note, HHS announced that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is launching a mobile smoking cessation service that will target teens and young adults. Dubbed the SmokeFreeTXT program, the service is an extension of the NCI's core smoking cessation website, which receives between 70,000 and 100,000 visits per month.

Additionally, NCI is launching a library of smoking cessation text messages that includes motivation, encouragement and information for an interactive text-based intervention targeting adult smokers called QuitNowTXT.

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll