A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights the use of text messages as part of the "telemedicine" wave. In some countries text messages are cheaper, faster, and more private than phone calls or e-mails, so they present a useful alternative to calling or visiting a health professional. Text messages are being used all over the world for a variety of health-related purposes:
- in the US: finding an HIV testing center near the user’s location
- in Canada: using picture messages to consult about a meal with a nutritionist
- in the UK: reminding women to get breast cancer screenings
- in Australia: allowing people to ask potentially-embarrassing sexual health questions
- in Africa: monitoring AIDS patients
Researchers have already tested the effectiveness of some health uses of text messages. Rodgers et al found that people were twice as likely to successfully quit smoking if they received text messages containing advice and support for 7 months.