EHRs to help evaluate effectiveness of text4baby

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) intends to use electronic health record data to help evaluate the usefulness of the text4baby program, according to a proposal filed with the Office of Management and budget (OMB). 

The tex4baby program, a private/public joint initiative launched in 2010, is the first free health text message service in the United States, providing information to pregnant women or new mothers via their mobile phones to help them have healthier and safe pregnancies.

In its proposal, published in the Federal Register Oct. 14, HRSA will collect data from telephone surveys from both subscribers and nonsubscribers of the program via health centers in four communities. Data from the surveys will be linked to data from EHRs of respondents who consent to the sharing of the information. The surveys will be conducted during each participant's pregnancy and nine months after the participant has given birth.

HRSA also will interview subscribers and providers regarding the usefulness of the program.

HRSA's goal is to examine which women are using the texting program, assess their experience with it, and determine if there's a correlation between its use and healthy behaviors.

"This information will help the Department of Health & Human Services understand the usefulness of mobile health technology and the potential for expanding and/or adapting mobile phone messaging to additional health topics or conditions," HRSA indicates in its notice. "The study also may offer insight into planning and implementing similar projects."

HRSA is accepting written comments and recommendations concerning the proposed information collection until the beginning of November.

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice

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