As millions of people across the United States and around the world continue to shelter at home and as many still have questions about the coronavirus, SMS text messaging is becoming an increasingly popular way for health organizations and government bodies to communicate with individuals. The ways that public health text messaging can be used seem to be limited only by the organization’s creativity. Here are eight examples of just how powerful texting can be.
To Discover Potential Carriers
In some areas, texting has been used to determine possible carriers of the coronavirus via self-reporting techniques. Texts usually request information about age, symptoms, recent travel and contact with individuals who have already been diagnosed with coronavirus. In other instances, the texts may direct users to a Website where they can input the information so that governments can track the spread of the disease.
We recently posted a workflow PDF and infographic we’re using with clients for tracking and monitoring COVID-19.
To Notify Those Who Have Been Exposed
In Israel, SMS texting is being used to notify individuals that they need to self-quarantine because they came into contact with someone who was later diagnosed with COVID-19. These contact tracing methods are vital for limiting disease numbers.
To Share Accurate Information
Many are filled with fear during this time because they do not have enough information about the coronavirus or because the news or social media feeds they are seeing are filled with confusion. Text messages have allowed individuals around the world to get the truth delivered to their cell phones. Such measures have proven successful in such places as Philadelphia and Indonesia.
To Provide Local Information
While worldwide coronavirus news is certainly interesting, it cannot compare to the knowledge of what is happening locally. New York City has honed in on this with a dedicated coronavirus texting line for providing local updates on the virus.
To Provide Mental Health Help
The past months have been particularly stressful for nearly everyone around the globe. SMS texting hotlines let people find encouragement and hope whether they are anxious or depressed. Suicide Prevention Lifeline has provided a dedicated texting channel for accessing a trained counselor and Alberta Health Services has started a text messaging service designed to provide daily encouraging texts.
To Reach People Without Internet Access
The World Health Organization along with UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union has begun a texting outreach targeting the billions of people around the world who have no access to the Internet. Texts provide these people with vital information they need to stay safe.
To Determine Who Needs Screening
Some people are unsure whether their symptoms could indicate that they have the coronavirus. New texting screening tools being developed in Seattle help people know whether they should seek coronavirus testing and how urgently they need to be tested.
To Give COVID-19 Test Results
Rather than spending time on making lengthy telephone calls, health care professionals can still give individuals their pathology results thanks to SMS technology. New Zealand has recently utilized this option, which has allowed patients to receive their results no more than six hours after the results arrived at the laboratory.
Public health text messaging is a powerful way for governments and health organizations around the world to contact individuals who need information quickly. Whether these texts are used to spread facts or hope, they are all incredibly helpful in reaching individuals who may otherwise not be able to talk to a trusted doctor, access news or discover ways to protect their health during this time. With this quick and trusted source of help, individuals can feel safer, less worried and more in control of their own health.
If you’re not using a text messaging service yet or whatever you’re using doesn’t have the above capabilities, Mosio can help you get started so that you can be ready within two business days, contact us today to discuss software options and to find out how we can help your organization.