As the Internet disrupted health care information in the late 1990s through the 2000s, watch out for the phone to make the health world flat, taking off from Tom Friedman’s phrasing about The World.

There are parts of the world using simple SMS text messaging in public health: to enable peoples’ positive health behaviors. In parts of Africa, safe-sex messaging and medication reminders help people prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In Europe, Nokia has tested a wide range of these applications, and Vodafone has been successful in getting teenage diabetics to respond to text messages via phones in an NHS pilot program.

Now, we’re seeing the proliferation of iPhone and other mobile applications in health. They seem to be multiplying like rabbits, the way fax machines began to appear all over hospitals as “networking” technology in the 1980s.

See the column, Meet Nurse iPhone, in PC Magazine dated March 23, 2009. It will introduce you to many of the latest med apps for iPhones. One important new link-up is Johnson & Johnson which can link a blood glucose testing device, such as J&J’s OneTouch system, to an iPhone.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The beauty of these applications and the phone platform is that they are adoptable across the socioeconomic spectrum. Mobile phones are everywhere, and simple text messaging can deliver powerful and motivating health messages. You certainly do not need an expensive iPhone or other brand to effectively engage in mHealth. Stay tuned to Health Populi and THINK-Health for more on mobile health applications this spring.

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