How SMS consultation can be a great tool for health care

October 12, 2011

Smartphones and healthcare applications are much-discussed subjects here on the blog. However, even regular cell phones can be very useful instruments for health care. The increased availability of mobile phones all over the world connects people like never before, and has drastically augmented the use of SMS: it is estimated that 8 trillion text messages will be sent in 2011.

What are the benefits of SMS consultation?
The simple format of the SMS allows people to ask experts for vital information in real-time and to get an instant reply.
According to PSFK, one of the main benefits of SMS consulting is the fact that it provides immediate answers. Also, its bite-size makes the information easy to remember and pass on. Another obvious advantage is the simplicity of the technology, which makes it a great asset in developing countries where smartphones are less prevalent. A concern, which we have brought up on several occasions on the blog, is confidentiality in medicine. PSFK also points out that SMS consultation allows patients to stay anonymous when seeking private, sensitive information.

A variety of usages
A good example of how SMS can be used in healthcare is the Truth on call community, a panel of physicians who answer questions via SMS. Its use is restricted to professionals and varies from industry panels to media queries or critical situations, such as when a natural disaster occurs.

Text in the city provides a free and educational platform for teenagers through one their primary means of communication, i.e. texting. This platform was created to make the relationship between teenagers and clinicians stronger, and the teenagers using this service can, for instance, ask questions or receive birth control reminders.

The electronic library of medicine mPedigree fights dangerous pharmaceutical counterfeiting in Africa and other poor regions of the world by helping its users distinguish between genuine and counterfeit drugs through a basic mobile texting platform, ensuring that people use safe medicine.

Childcount uses a platform developed by rapidsms to facilitate and coordinate the activities of community health care workers in order to improve child survival and maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa and register patients to obtain a real-time view of the health community.

As you can see, there’s an extensive use of SMS consulting in health care. Is SMS consulting something that you would practice in your everyday life?

Photorights: © maximino gomes – / © Suprijono Suharjoto –


At Withings, we make a range of products that empower people to make the right decisions for their health. Our award-winning connected devices are known for personalization, cutting-edge design, and ease of use, allowing anyone to measure, monitor, and track what matters via seamless connection to the free Health Mate app available for iOS & Android.
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