Health IT Pulse

Sep 27 2011   11:32AM GMT

HHS task force hones in on mobile health technology

cbyertechtarget Profile: cbyertechtarget

Mobile devices and telehealth
mobile health
mobile health technologies

A task force for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced suggestions to support health text messaging and mobile health, or mHealth, programs. Giving the public timely access to their health care information is an integral part of improving the nation’s overall health.

The Text4Health Task Force, which was created in November 2010 and includes professionals from HHS, is responsible for spearheading text messaging technology and providing recommendations for mHealth initiatives.

While the full list of recommendations is available free to the public, here are a few noted by the task force.

•    HHS develop and host evidence-based health text message libraries that leverage HHS’ scientifically-based information
•    HHS develop further evidence on the effectiveness of health text messaging programs
•    HHS explore and develop partnerships to create, implement and disseminate health text messaging and mHealth programs.

The task force is taking part in a few new initiatives, one of which — backed by a $5 million investment — focuses on patients’ smoking habits. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health plans to launch SmokeFreeTXT, a program intended for teens and young adults to stop smoking across the United States. Additionally, the QuitNowTXT program is coming to fruition as well. This program’s goal is to help smokers by providing tips and facts that are sent directly to their mobile device.

“Mobile device texting initiatives, like this one, have the potential to be a powerful tool to support tobacco cessation globally,” said Todd Park, chief technology officer for HHS. “Text messaging is widely available, inexpensive, and allows for immediate delivery of cessation information.”

The outreach is focused abroad, too, as HHS is interested in making the QuitNowTXT agenda available to other countries to impact adult tobacco users. There are a plethora of organizations that are partnering with HHS for this project such as: World Medical Assosiation, Johnson & Johnson and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids among others.

Mobile device adoption is destined for expansion in the health care space since it contributes to telehealth services. Whether the initiatives pitched by HHS will make a positive impact is yet to be seen.

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