A Text A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Does your life depend on your mobile phone or other mobile devise? Think about it... how much information, some critical, does it contain? How much time do you spend using it? If you lose it you feel as if you’ve lost your best friend!

Now, as health management moves from files and folders, to electronic medical records and into the memories of smart phones, our health may become more dependent on these little devices too!

Here’s How...

I recently read about the 2011mHealth Summit which aims to promote the use of wireless technology to improve health outcomes worldwide.

It’s a great idea given the popularity and ubiquity of mobile technology. By current estimates there are now are over 5 billion mobile phone subscribers and over 70 % live in low- and middle-income countries.

In fact it’s in counties like Africa where many text-based health programs originate, before they are adopted and adapted by the rest of the world.

For example, Text To Change, a non-profit organization in Africa, has been successfully using mobile technology for health education since 2008. TTC uses text messages, or SMS, in its educational programs targeting health issues like HIV and AIDS, malaria, and reproductive health in Uganda, Kenya and Namibia.

For the rest of us, the technology is now in the form of over 12,000 health-related apps in the iTunes store.

Given the gift giving season, and huge choice, I thought you may like to know some of the better, free smart phone apps and mobile services that can help you manage your health...

Smart Phone Apps for Smart Health Choices


With a Vision of “Helping the World Make Better Healthcare Decisions”, iTriage is a very effective, popular  health app created by 2 ER doctors to address the two most commonly asked healthcare questions:

•    What could be wrong with me?
•    What do I need to do, or where do I need to go for treatment?

According to iTriage, their new mobile and web healthcare platform “empowers people to make better healthcare decisions and improves healthcare delivery for providers and payers.” The glowing testimonials from customers seem to endorse that. It seems to be an impressive tool considering the many health variables involved.

Indeed, to date, millions of consumers in over 80 countries have downloaded iTriage making it the most widely distributed mobile platform connecting patients to healthcare delivery.


Text4baby is a very popular free health text messaging service providing pregnant women and new moms with pregnancy tips and advice about how to care for a newborn. It even times the messages to your due date or your baby’s birthday.

Smokefree TXT

Smokefree TXT is all about: “Quitting: on your phone, on your terms.” It’s a free mobile service designed for young adults – though anyone can use it – which provides 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers stop smoking for good.

The service sends encouraging messages about quitting. What’s really cool is you can also text back with keywords like “crave” or “slip” to let the app  know what kind of day you are having!

Here is a study reported in The Lancet showing how “Smoking cessation programmes delivered via mobile phone text messaging significantly improved smoking cessation rates at 6 months and should be considered for inclusion in smoking cessation services.”

Lose It

Yes, this "beautifully designed weight-loss app" (according to the New York Times) is all about losing that horrible weight...especially relevant over the Christmas ‘splurge’!

Its website and testimonials show how the app helps you lose weight by keeping track of what you eat each day, as well as how many calories the food counts toward your “daily calorie budget.”

The result? Apparently “86 % of their users have lost weight.”

Rxmind Me  

Ever had trouble remembering which pill to take when? With so many different medications all with their unique dosages and time intervals, it’s no wonder that people get confused.

Now with apps like Rxmind Me that faulty memory is no excuse!

Simply download the free app, insert your medications, dosages and other relevant information and Rxmind Me will alert you when it’s time to pop your pill.

I bet when you go for your next doctor’s appointment, s/he will be mighty impressed with you having all the medications listed! (Maybe advise them to use an app like Rxmind Me too!)

The above apps are great examples of harnessing technology in a user friendly and health enhancing way. Just as important though, is how SMS use in global health programs can be cost-effective, informative, easily accessible, anonymous, and above all, life-saving.

Just think health apps which may help to prevent and remedy health issues, as well as save lives. What a Great Christmas present!

PS: Legal Disclaimer: I think I’m obliged to say that I am not affiliated in any way with the above apps!

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