Using text messaging to improve health isn't new, and
we've written about it time and again. But as those
seeking to enhance health, wellness, and medicine turn
to texting more and more to further their ends, an increasingly
exciting and specific array of SMS applications emerges.
One particularly significant and interesting branch
of texting to improve health takes the form of using
texting to bolster women's health, an often undercut
but very important sector to women and all those who
have women in their lives.
A major area of women's health is prenatal and maternity
care, a necessity for a healthy pregnancy and, in the
end, a healthy baby. While pregnant, one should take
measures to ensure their best possible physical and
mental health including ending health-compromising habits,
eating a specific diet rich in certain vitamins, and
regularly visiting doctors for routine screenings, for
a start. It's a lot to keep track of, but that's where
texting comes into play.
A small greater Boston area study in 2012 piloted the
use of text messages to keep 25 women with an average
age of 22 updated on prenatal health throughout their
pregnancies. Texts were customized based on date of
enrollment, stage of pregnancy, and the language preference
of the women. Texts provided informational tips, motivational
words, reminders, encouragement of prenatal or postpartum
care, and helped connect women to their clinical teams.
95% of the patients reported that they found the texts
Outside the realm of research studies, services like
Text4baby offer similar care. Not only pregnant women
and new moms, but other parents and friends or relatives
of pregnant women can sign up with Text4baby to receive
customized texts about care and health during and/or
For those not looking to become pregnant, birth control
pills enjoy enormous popularity among women; according
to the CDC, 10.6 million women of reproductive age use
oral contraceptives. The pill is not only an effective
contraceptive, but an important medication many women
use to help with various other problems like acne, endometriosis,
highly unpleasant or irregular periods, polycystic ovarian
syndrome, migraines, and some cancers. In short, birth
control and birth control compliance are very important
to millions of American women.
With most pills having to be taken every day at the
same time, it is easy to forget to take a pill, and
missing even one dose can disrupt the pills' efficacy.
Texting offers a simple solution: birth control users
can receive a daily reminder text at their chosen time
to keep them covered should they forget. Apps like Bedsider
and myPill offer an easy, user-friendly way to subscribe
to daily reminder text messages as well as reminder
texts when users must place a call to their provider.
Text messaging can also be used as an effective reminder
system for a variety of other health actions women should
take. There are a number of regular screenings women
should undergo, such as mammograms and pap smears, to
ensure they stay healthy. Women can opt to receive text
messages reminding them to schedule and attend such
screenings, keeping them from forgetting to make, or
worrying about forgetting to make, their appointments.
With the presence of SMS always growing in health and
medicine, the possibilities for advancing the oft-neglected
realm of women's healthcare are promising.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage,
Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.