Revisiting Dr. Katz's "medical minutes" program

By Brian Dolan
05:59 am

Dr. Richard KatzMobile health pilots conducted by Dr. Richard Katz of George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC were the subject of a recent Associated Press report. "Medical Minutes" is the term Katz uses to describe his program.

Katz aims to use incentives to see whether inner-city diabetics, an "especially hard-to-reach population," according to the AP, will better control their blood sugar and as a result save Medicaid dollars. Katz has outfitted the pilot group with Internet-connected mobile phones and a reduced monthly rate that lasts as long as they comply with the program. (For more on Katz, revisit our post from February covering a talk Katz gave on his program.)

"What systems work best with patients has yet to be figured out," Katz told the AP. He said that he's both worried about whether the programs can continue after the pilot phase since they are expensive, but also because interest in them my die off. "Otherwise, they find it's a nice toy to start with, and forget about it."

Katz had a similar tone when he spoke earlier this year: "We should strike now while there is all this enthusiasm.”

The AP report closed with a series of results from other mobile health programs, many of which are old hat. One, however, stood out as one we hadn't written about before: The University of California, San Diego, designed a text-message program to encourage weight loss. Participants texted answers to questions, including "Did you buy fresh raw vegetables to snack on this week?" By answering the questions, participants received more personal SMS diet tips. A group of 75 people piloted the program, and the text-message recipients lost about four more pounds in four months than those given printed dieting advice, the AP reported.

For more from the AP report, read on here.


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