Although developing text messaging campaigns to reach consumers with healthcare-related information is not new, many organizations are getting even better at defining their core offer or call to action within these campaigns and targeting a more defined audience segment. Here are just a couple of recent examples of the more targeted approaches to engaging consumers with healthcare information through text mesaging.
Reaching Consumers in Developing Countries through Text Messaging
How one company uses SMS text to help consumers detect counterfeit medicines
In looking at ways to use mobile devices to reach doctors in developing countries, a team at GlaxoSmithKline ended up creating a SMS text messaging campaign to protect African consumers from counterfeit products.
Since counterfeit medicines are a huge issue in Africa – with an estimated 10-30% of the medicines sold in open markets counterfeit – consumers often have no way of figuring out what medicines are real and what are fake.
Here’s how the SMS campaign works: GSK assigns unique, scratch-off identifiers to packages of antibiotic so consumers are able to send the code via SMS text message to a toll-free phone number for verification. The mobile service then looks up the code and sends back verification via SMS text to the consumer. Right away consumers started using the service, with GSK receiving 1,000 texts per day within the first few weeks.
Reaching Pregnant and New Moms through Text Messaging
In an effort to educate new moms (and moms-to-be) about pregnancy and childbirth and lower infant mortality rates in the U.S., a text-messaging campaign sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, called text4baby, has been targeted to Hispanic and African American women in early stages of pregnancy through their baby’s 1st year.
The text4baby campaign was the result of a partnership between healthcare organizations, wireless carriers, and government as way to reach Hispanic and African American mothers who are about 2.5 times more likely to put off prenatal care (or get no prenatal care) than Caucasian women. However, research showed that Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to be avid texters.
The campaign sends free text messages in English or Spanish with content on how to improve your health during pregnancy and care for your newborn. Moms simply text the number 511411 with the word BABY or BEBE (in Spanish) and then provide their due date (or child’s birth date) in order to begin receiving messages. The campaign goal of reaching 1 million moms by the end of 2012 is a worthy challenge and as of February 2011, there were 135,000 women signed up.
Importance of Mobile Platforms in Educating Consumers about Healthcare
Of course this isn’t the first time that text messaging has educated and informed consumers about healthcare-related issues. However, it does reiterate the growing importance of mobile platforms in delivering targeted health-related information to consumers around the world. Many organizations are looking to mobile/wireless devices and mobile text messaging (SMS) as ways to inform the public about key health education issues such as:
- Disease outbreak notifications
- Education on chronic disease management
- Prevention in areas of health like diabetes
I suspect we will see a number of creative uses for mobile platforms in reaching consumers in the near future. To learn more about how healthcare organizations are using text messaging, be sure to check out: