An example of m-health: Text4baby

May 6, 2016 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Several of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) in April, in Washington, D.C. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Leah Taub, BA

One of my main areas of interest in public health is innovation for behavior change, an example of which is mobile health, or m-health. As such, I was pleased to hear that Zero To Three and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Office of Creative Media and Design would be presenting at AMCHP on Text4baby, a mobile-based system that provides information about newborn care via text messages to new mothers.

The session, entitled, “Leveraging Technology for Outreach: How to Integrate Mobile Based Health Education in Maternal and Child Health,” stood out to me because it addressed an innovative approach to health education and communication that I often fail to see in public health. Not only is Text4baby innovative because it takes advantage of the popularity of information and communication technology, but also because it is a public-private initiative, encouraging collaboration across local, state and federal levels as well as across government and private industries. For instance, in some states, like South Carolina, state health departments partner with mass media organizations to broadcast messages about the app. Another example is Text4baby’s partnership with Too Small to Fail and Sesame Street. This integration with mass media allows the service to reach and hopefully impact a larger number of moms.

Text4baby is also unique because it is a free service, making it more accessible to women of lower socioeconomic status.  In addition, HRSA conducted a randomized control trial on the service, which resulted in a substantial impact on the knowledge and behavior of moms receiving text messages from the app.

Overall, I am drawn to Text4baby’s emphasis on impact and innovation, two areas in which I am very interested and hope to be a part of after graduating in May.

Leah Taub is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health, and a former broadcast media professional. She plans to graduate in May 2016. Her interests include social and behavior change communication, monitoring and evaluation, and maternal, sexual and reproductive health. She also loves yoga, running, cooking, and live music.

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