More Americans own mobile phones than landline phones or even computers so that mobile devices are an ideal medium for health messaging and promotion. CDC is exploring a number of ways to use mobile technology to promote health and safe behaviors.
CDC co-sponsored a Texting4Health Conference in 2008, at the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab that focused on using mobile text messaging to promote better health. CDC is now working with numerous public health partners to develop research and best practices for accomplishing this task using mobile phones.
In a collaborative project between HHS, CDC, AIDS.gov, and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a mobile text application was developed to locate HIV testing centers by zip code. Users can text their zip code to “KnowIT” (566948) and within seconds, receive a text message identifying an HIV testing site near them. Users who do not have cell phones or prefer to use the web can access the online testing database at HIVtest.org to find testing centers.
CDC participated in a project led by the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia to produce a new kind of PSA called a “Personal Public Service announcement” (PPSA). The PPSA was developed to reach target audiences, particularly youth, via their personal media, such as mobile phones and MP3 players. The PPSA is one of CDC’s first attempts to use user-generated content to promote healthy behaviors.
The PPSAs were developed in a single day by teams of student journalists from Temple University, the University of Georgia, and the University of South Carolina to encourage HIV testing for World AIDS Day. The project was funded by Verizon Communications along with support from CDC and other organizations.
CDC has a popular email subscription service that enables users to receive notices when new information is added to CDC.gov. To compliment this service, CDC has piloted a mobile text message subscription service to enable users to receive text messages and be notified when the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Map is released.
In partnership with Georgia Tech University, CDC is studying how to better use mobile phones to improve the management of diabetes. Patients can now use the phone to record their blood sugar, with the readings made available on a collaborative web site for discussion with their diabetes educator.