Sunday, February 21, 2010

Free Mobile Health Service Launched

The U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra announced that pregnant women and new mothers will be able to get health information delivered regularly to their mobile phones by text messages. There is no charge for the new program called “text4baby” being provided by a coalition of mobile phone service providers, health professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies.

The new program provides timely health information to women from early pregnancy through the first year of the baby. The service sends important health tips timed to the mother’s stage of pregnancy or the baby’s age.

Currently, in the U.S., more than 5000,000 babies which means one in every eight are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday which is among the highest rate in the industrialized world.“Test4baby is the first fee mobile health service to be taken to scale in the U.S. We know that mobile phones hold tremendous potential to inform and empower individuals”, said Chopra.

Chopra introduced the new service in a keynote address at a joint session of the Health IT Summit for Government Leaders, the National Health Information Exchange Summit, and the 18th National HIPAA Summit.

Women who sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish) receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including nutrition, seasonal flu prevention and treatment, mental health issues, risks of tobacco use, oral health, immunization schedules, and safe sleep. Text4Baby messages connect women to public clinics and support services for prenatal and infant care.

Several government agencies are involved in the design, outreach, and evaluation of text4baby that includes HHS, Department of Defense Military Health System, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

For information, go to