Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

SMS and Text Messaging for Health

Following on the announcement of the Voxiva $10 million Phones for Health program, I’ve pulled together other programs using text or SMS messaging to improve access to health care and health information in developing countries.

There has been a lot of hope for cell phone technologies for a number of years now. Warren Kaplan’s paper helps bring to light some of the challenges and points to the need for more rigorous evaluation of these programs.

Below are a few services used in developing and developed countries. If you’ve used any of these or others, what’s your experience?


Written by Justin

March 1, 2007 at 5:15 pm

7 Responses

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  1. […] less developed regions or the “South” as people love to say). We did a previous link drop on SMS/Text Messaging for Global Health that you should check out. Below I begin with two links about the power of mobile phones in general […]

  2. Texting 4 Health at Stanford concluded yesterday. It drew a capacity crowd of 120+ practitioners, researchers and service providers. A book based on the conference presentations will be published later this spring.

    Richard Adler

    March 2, 2008 at 4:58 pm

  3. Website for the conference is:

    Richard Adler

    February 14, 2008 at 1:18 am

  4. For those interested in this topic, there is going to be a conference on Texting 4 Health at Stanford on Feb 29, 2008, with pre- and post-conference workshops on creating SMS-based health applications. See

    Richard Adler

    February 14, 2008 at 1:18 am

  5. There’s another service right now in San Francisco, that is being replicated in Washington, DC, and hopefully nationally in the next year. SexINFO is an SMS text messaging opt-in service with information and referrals about what to do if a condom broke, if you’re not sure you want to have sex, or if you want to know about HIV. Text SEXINFO to 61827.

    We have some data on marketing effects, as well as usability testing of the service to see how young people are understanding instructions and accessing the service. The companion website is at or you can email

    We would like to expand overseas, and are looking to find out more about the network services in other countries. It seems like the U.S. is more expensive and difficult than other countries, but that’s just an initial observation.
    Deb Levine, Exec. Director, Internet Sexuality Information Services, Inc.

    Deb Levine

    November 24, 2007 at 10:27 pm

  6. I work in child and adolescent mental health and one of our client groups (16-19) respond really well to communication through email and SMS. We have started the process of trying to identify other settings in which this has been used, so your post is very useful.



    November 22, 2007 at 11:50 pm

  7. i agree, IT has huge potential for health. for the hundreds of millions of rural people and migrant workers who have low access to care, this could be a real solution.

    researching solutions for migrant worker health care, i came across this article on satellife’s PDA project: while setting up the infrastructure for PDA’s will no doubt be much more challenging than mobile phones, they are able to store quite a bit more data than a mobile phone. a primary health care provider could download a medical library that could make the difference in making a correct diagnosis.

    although who knows, maybe by the time rural areas are wired for effective PDA use, it will be more cost-effective to use laptops.

    along with mobile phones, i think the new face of health IT will also include smart cards and telemedicine…


    March 11, 2007 at 2:40 am

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