WSJ on Texting in Healthcare

Obviously my entries about texting in healthcare are timely. Today’s WSJ includes an article (pg D1) by Rachel Zimmerman called “don’t 4get ur pills: Text messaging for Health”.

She points out several compliance type programs where this is being used (outside the US)…birth control pills (England), AIDS (Australia), psychological support for bulimics (Germany), and smoking cessation (New Zealand).

Apparently, the American Telemedicine Association is developing guidelines for the appropriate use of text messaging in healthcare (along with other new media). The executive director, Jonathan Linkous, was quoted as saying “There are obviously times when telemedicine is inappropriate. Texting someone to tell them they have cancer is one of them.” [I think we can all agree.]

Of course, with health costs being concentrated in a small percentage of the population which is typically older, can texting make a difference? It isn’t easy to type on those small mobile phones with arthritis. Lots of seniors don’t even carry mobile phones. Plus texting is a whole different message as the article points out. My kids will probably get it much better than me.

Plus, using condense information can be risky. We had this problem in sending messages to pharmacies where we had a finite amount of characters to say “Drug A is not covered but the following drugs are covered but if medically required then the physician has to call 800-xxx-xxxx to request a prior authorization”. Other than reminders or pushing them to a very specific action it may be a challenge.

I think sending links or phone numbers via text message could be helpful. For example, using co-browsing, a company could trigger a message a message suggesting the patient call-in for more information or also go to another site. [What is co-browsing…this is when a company (typically a call center agent) can see where an individual is on the web and what they are looking at to help them.]

She mentions a few companies:

There certainly is a need for something that is quick and ubiquitous around healthcare. For someone under 40, I think texting could work great. For people over 40 (an arbitrary line), I think automated voice is better. It is just as quick. It is ubiquitous. And, it can be personalized and change during the call versus going back and forth via text messages.

3 Responses to “WSJ on Texting in Healthcare”

  1. We seem to be of somewhat like minds regarding this article in the WSJ yesterday. Though I found the article to wander a bit too broadly, do agree that there is some real potential in using texting as a communication medium (see ). I ended my own post wondering why I have not seen such features as what Intelecare is offering embedded into one of the PHR solutions in the market. May serve Intelecare well if they hooked up with one of the larger PHR vendors.

  2. Visit for more information about how you can integrate a text message compliance program in to your business plan. This is great way to compliment the current efforts of complaince, adherence and persistency.


  3. Thank you for mentioning Intelecare in your blog. We are enabling patient medical adherence as the patient and caregiver demand – eg. text, email and voice messaging – so they can get their reminders at home, at work or on the go! If you haven’t visted our website, check it out and sign up for our free reminder service to see how our technology works.

    I look forward to reading your other entries regarding texting and healthcare.

    Alex Sicre
    Director, Corporate Development

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