HHS Embracing Text Messaging
The Department of Health and Human Services will use its massive stores of health information to develop wellness and prevention campaigns using text messaging to target specific populations.
The programs are modeled, in part, after the Text4Baby public health campaign of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. Under Text4Baby, pregnant women and new mothers sign up for the service by texting BABY (BEBE for Spanish) to 511411, and receive pertinent free text messages. As of June 2011, about 185,000 women had enrolled in Text4Baby and received 15 million texts.
Now, the National Cancer Institute has launched two smoking cessation programs, QuitNowTXT for adults and SmokeFreeTXT for teens and young adults, to offer tips, motivation, encouragement and other information tailored to a user's responses.
HHS also is pursuing public-private partnerships to launch additional text programs covering such issues as smoking cessation for pregnant women, early childhood health and emergency response. The initiatives follow recent recommendations of the HHS Text4Health Task Force formed in November 2010.