Three federally designated Beacon Communities will launch a new program in January that will send personalized text messages to people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The “txt4health” mobile texting program will kick into action on January 31 in New Orleans, southeast Michigan and greater Cincinnati, encouraging targeted individuals to assess their diabetes risk levels, manage their health and connect with available wellness and diabetes care resources. The program was developed by the American Diabetes Association, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Beacon Community Program, the Crescent City Beacon Community, the Southeast Michigan Beacon Community, the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Community and Voxiva.
“Txt4health is an innovative and efficient approach to disseminating health information to at-risk populations,” said Nebeyou Abebe, the txt4health campaign manager, in a press release. “Chronic diseases such as diabetes are spiraling out of control and txt4health is a powerful service designed to help people understand their risk for Type 2 diabetes and become more informed about the steps they can take to lead healthy lives.”
“(The) CDC estimates that 10.3 percent of Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, an increase of 69 percent since 1994,” added Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. “Helping people learn their risk for Type 2 diabetes is a key first step in stopping further increases. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing a modest amount of weight and becoming more active.”
According to research by Pew, nine of every 10 adults own a mobile device capable of texting.
To enroll in the program, individuals are required to text “HEALTH” to 300400. Once enrolled, they’ll be prompted to set up a profile by answering a series of questions to assess their risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes. Those responses will be used to develop a customized texting program designed to assist the individual in improving and managing his or her health.
“There are nearly 79 million Americans living with pre-diabetes, a condition that places them at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This is a significant problem and we need to do everything we can to seek out innovative health in the fight to stop diabetes,” said Vivian Fonseca, MD, president of the ADA’s Medicine & Science division. “The txt4health campaign reflects a collaborative effort that uses mobile health technology to connect people who are at risk to much-needed resources which will allow them to manage and improve their health.”
The ONC’s Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program provides funding to 17 communities throughout the United States that have worked on developing secure, private and accurate systems of electronic health record adoption and health information exchange. The program is designed to support these communities as they build and strengthen their health IT infrastructure and exchange capabilities to improve care coordination, increase the quality of care and slow the growth of healthcare spending.
“Beacon Communities are recognized as the brightest examples of using technology to transform healthcare at the local level,” said Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, who will give the keynote address at a Jan. 31 launch event in New Orleans. “The txt4health campaign in New Orleans, Detroit and Cincinnati will test a new form of public health engagement, spearheaded by text messaging that is widely available (and) inexpensive and allows for immediate delivery of essential consumer health information."
The New Orleans kickoff, organized by the Louisiana Public Health Institute, will include city officials and celebrities, as well as representatives from the CDC, ADA and founding sponsor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.
"We are excited about the potential for text4health, which perfectly pairs innovations in healthcare technology with better health outcomes," said Bruce D. Greenstein, Louisiana’s Secretary of Health & Hospitals. "Through this initiative, patients in the New Orleans area will get fast, easily accessible information about reducing their risk of diabetes. This will empower them to own their health and give them the tools needed to make the best choices about exercise, diet and other factors that affect their diabetes risk. We are confident that through the hard work of our health care partners and provider community to encourage patient participation, text4health will be a success."
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“We have taken a collaborative approach towards developing effective community engagement strategies to successfully launch txt4health in Greater New Orleans,” added Anjum Khurshid, director of the Crescent City Beacon Community. “Txt4health is one of our successful initiatives under the Crescent City Beacon Community program that is leveraging the power of mobile technology to improve population-level health outcomes. We are proud to be the first Beacon Community to launch txt4health.”
“As the state's largest health insurer, we are committed to supporting the health of all Louisianians as we battle this health crisis together. We think txt4health will be a successful wellness initiative that will improve the lives of those who participate,” added BCBSLA CEO Mike Reitz “We hope to work with our partners to bring this program throughout the state so others at risk can benefit from the education. If we can educate people to take preventive health measures, we can keep them healthier and also keep healthcare costs down.”