Text4baby goes beyond the text, adds video

By Jonah Comstock
03:00 am
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Voxiva, the company that developed the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition's Text4baby free texting service for new mothers, announced a major update of Text4baby.

New Text4baby messages will include links to a mobile website containing "educational content and informational videos covering topics from exercise during pregnancy to car seat safety," according to a release from the company. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the March of Dimes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided the content.

In addition, the texting component will be more interactive than before, allowing women to text "MORE" for more information, or "LIKE" to give Voxiva feedback on positive messages. They'll also be able to use Text4baby to set reminders for their doctors' appointments.

In other Text4baby news, a new independently conducted year-long study shows that Text4baby is effective in reaching its target population in San Diego, and in improving the health of pregnant women and new mothers. The service has had 540,000 mothers enroll since its launch.

The study was conducted by National Latino Research Center (NLRC) at California State University San Marcos and the University of California San Diego, with support from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation.

The study incorporates three phone surveys conducted over one year, one of which MobiHealthNews reported back in November 2011. The data produced by the complete study of 631 users of Text4baby are consistent with the findings returned by the first survey.

Users reported on whether messages from Text4baby caused them to take particular actions. For instance, 65 percent of women said Text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization, 74 percent said it informed them of medical warning signs they didn't know, and 67 percent said they talked to their doctor about a topic from a Text4baby message.

Forty percent said they called a service number they learned about in a Text4baby message, including 50 percent of respondents without insurance.

The survey also collected demographic data about the San Diego users of Text4baby, to see whether the service was reaching its stated target demographic of low-income, minority women.

"The results from that really show that we're reaching participants with a low household income," Text4baby research manager Jessica Bushar told MobiHealthNews. "We also looked at ethnicity, age, parity, and household size."

The average San Diego Text4baby user turned out to be 27.4 years old with a high school degree and an annual household income between $20,001 and $30,000. The average user has 1-2 children (including their current pregnancy) and 3 to 4 people living in their house total. Users were most likely to have insurance, and they gave the service an average satisfaction rating of 8.7 out of 10.

Additionally, 110 of the users in the study received text messages in Spanish. Of these, 95 percent reported that the Spanish in the messages was correct and the messages were clear and understandable.

Another recent efficacy study, conducted at George Washington University, found that Text4baby users were “nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers compared to those in the no exposure control group.” And Buschar told MobiHealthNews that two other studies are underway. One, conducted by Mathematica on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be complete by early 2014. Another is being undertaken by the Department of Defense and will be completed by the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.

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