Attention: Public Health Departments…Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 with Text Messaging Now

5 Ways Text Messaging Can Help Public Health Departments Manage Coronavirus

Note: Our ongoing blog series about SMS use cases are inspired from inquiries we’re getting from clients asking about how text messaging can be best used during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our sincere hope that your organization is already using SMS to communicate. If so, we hope these posts provide you with helpful information on the ways to best use text messaging during these times.

13 states (all states) reporting current cases, United States officials anticipate that the coronavirus, COVID-19, will make its way into the general population in the coming weeks and months, with the WHO officially declaring it a pandemic.

Two public health departments recently approached Mosio to determine how our text messaging service could fit into a system of reporting symptoms and maintaining contact with quarantined individuals. 

Here are five ways text messaging can help local health departments encourage preventative measures, track coronavirus symptoms and monitor people under quarantine.

Two-Way “TextChat” Text Messaging

  • Hotline to Report Symptoms:  Use a dedicated text messaging line as a hotline for people to report concerning symptoms they notice in themselves or others.
  • Quarantine Support: Text messaging is a convenient way to ask questions or report a change in symptoms for people who are under quarantine.  Additionally, quarantined individuals often experience feelings of isolation, and having the ability to reach out to someone through a text message provides emotional support while still maintaining proper quarantine protocols.

SMS Surveys

  • Symptom Tracking (See Trends): COVID-19 affects people differently, tracking individual symptoms with text can help identify trends.  This can be done by sending survey’s via text messaging with easy to answer questions about current symptoms.  This data can be collected rapidly and local health departments can notify vulnerable populations and address the outbreak more effectively.

Text Message Alerts

Alerts: A public health department can reach people quickly because people tend to open a text message within a few minutes of receiving.  It’s extremely effective when sharing crucial information. Here are some examples of alerts that can be sent:

  • local COVID-19 update, 
  • tips for staying healthy,
  • information on reducing the chance of spreading the coronavirus to others

Automated Text Message Scheduling

  • Keep the Public Informed: Automated text messaging can greatly reduce public panic by allowing public health departments to send texts with the correct information. In addition, they reduce the time investment by allowing health department staff to create messages at their convenience and select an automatic time, calendar or event-triggered delivery schedule.  For example, create a series of messages that share correct facts about the virus, set up emergency sequences with information that needs to go out if the outbreak reaches certain criteria, and text reminders on how to stop the spread of the virus.

We Can Help

If you’re currently using a text messaging service, we hope these ideas help you improve your communications with the public. Mosio is a tool for researchers, public health officials, and an advocate for the patients and society – providing a safe and secure way to collect data, effectively managing the Coronavirus outbreak is important to everyone