Picture this… You hear a cellular ring tone going off with a loud, raspy, hacking “smoker’s cough” sound. It turns out that it’s a text message from the state Department of Health with an opt-in reminder about quitting smoking.
The coughing ring tone is optional, but cellphone text reminders are increasingly being used as a hospital and healthcare marketing tool that targets a specific audience group. What’s more, the cost of reaching people via cellphone or mobile device is often a fraction of large-audience media.
“Some 85 percent of Americans own cellphones, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project,” reports The Providence (RI) Journal. “That means the reach of any mobile phone effort is potentially huge, especially among urban, lower-income people who often have poor access to health information. Thousands of commercial smartphone applications enable people to track their exercise routines, blood glucose, asthma symptoms or food intake.”
Here are several examples of how the “cellphone in every pocket” is an increasingly popular way to communicate about good health and healthy lifestyles:
- QuitNowRI.com – Rhode Island’s smoking cessation campaign added text message reminders and words of encouragement for individuals who are trying to (or want to) quit smoking. The program, which includes a website, a telephone hotline and other public outreach efforts, is also testing QR codes that can be read by many phones.
- Weight Loss, Diet and Exercise – Research, clinical trials and treatment programs by hospitals and others include text messages and tracking apps. The Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Physical Activity and Weight Management Resource Center are two among many examples.
- MyHealth App from Southcoast Health System – A free, smartphone-based tool for tracking medications and finding a physician via New Bedford, MA, hospitals.
- Prenatal and Newborn Care – Information and advice for women from www.text4baby.org.
And other applications such as:
- Hospital ER and Department Waiting Times
- Medication and Patient Compliance Reminders
- Pollen Count and Asthma Information