Mobile messaging viable for military personnel treatment

Mobile messaging as part of medical recovery treatment proves mHealth efforts can boost rehabilitation efforts for injured military personnel and help soldiers re-integrate following service, as shown in a recent pilot.

The primary goal for the program, mCare, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Military Medicine Research, was determining if mHealth intervention for geographically dispersed military patients could boost communication and improve treatment. The results, titled "Using Secure Mobile Technology to Support Soldier Reintegration and Rehabilitation Center for Military Medicine Research," were published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

"The mCare pilot project demonstrated the feasibility and administrative effectiveness of a scalable mHealth application using secure mobile messaging and information exchanges, including personalized patient education," study authors write.

The results note 85 percent of participants would recommend mHealth programs and that patient appointment attendance was improved by 56 percent. The pilot text program provided users with health and wellness advice, treatment announcements and appointment reminders. Soldiers were also able to exchange information with care teams and patients.

The news comes as mobile healthcare innovations, from monitoring devices to smartphone sensor technologies, are increasingly moving into medical environments and changing how healthcare providers, payers and patients interact and provide treatment. Several U.S. military agencies have been busy exploring mHealth technologies tied involving cell phones, as well as texting and video messaging efforts.

The pilot program ran from May, 2009 to April 2011, involved 1,083 soldiers and handled 150,742 messages sent to 1,083 soldiers, some of whom were up to 600 miles from a military care base.

"Soldiers were better informed about their care and had improved access to communicate with case managers. As a result, case managers were able to coordinate more effectively, intervene when needed, and communicate care," study authors note. "These types of mobile health features will continue to be important for users, especially those suffering from psychological and impaired cognitive conditions."

The study's authors recommend further evaluation and pilot programs be initiated as part of the military's mHealth strategy.

For more information:
- read the study in Telemedicine and e-Health

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