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mPulse, Harvard Medical School to study the impact of SMS programs on Medicaid members

Researchers aim to assess effectiveness of interactive text messages in encouraging disease management and primary care visits with Gold Coast Health Plan.

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mPulse, Harvard Medical School to study the impact of SMS programs on Medicaid members

Mobile health engagement leader mPulse Mobile is teaming-up with researchers at the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School (Harvard) to evaluate the impact of interactive, tailored text messages with a Medicaid population through the implementation of two distinct programs.

One program hopes to activate members with chronic conditions, such as asthma, to enroll and engage in a disease management program. The second program, on the other hand, will evaluate whether interactive text messaging helps new members select and visit a primary care clinician soon after enrolling. During the evaluation of both programs, two-way, tailored text messages will be delivered to a population of Gold Coast Health Plan (GCHP) Medicaid members.

“There is a major need for innovation in care delivery and how we can engage patients outside of just the office visit,” said program researcher and associate professor of healthcare policy and medicine, Harvard Medical School, Ateev Mehrotra, MD, MPH. “I’ve spent much of my career studying the ability of different interventions to drive advancements in population health management, and I’m excited about the possibility for mPulse Mobile to engage individuals in their health using tailored and interactive text messaging to improve outcomes and lower costs.”

According to GCHP, management of chronic conditions like asthma is often unsatisfactory, leading to inadequate treatment and adherence to treatment. For this reason, one of the two mobile engagement programs will focus on increasing program enrollment and personal health engagement. Participating members will be prompted via interactive text messages to sign up for and participate in the GCHP asthma disease management program.

The second mobile engagement program was developed to determine if text messages are an effective tool for activating new and existing plan enrollees to utilize primary care services; it will examine if tailored text dialogues can impact primary care provider selection, utilization of preventive care services and screenings and incidence of chronic illness.

“Harvard’s interest in studying the efficacy of these programs further validates the need for innovative mobile solutions that reach members and drive engagement, particularly with underserved populations,” Chris Nicholson, CEO of mPulse Mobile, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to work with Harvard and our customer Gold Coast Health Plan on this research and continue proving text messaging’s positive impact on health outcomes.”

Research funding for both projects will be provided by California Health Care Foundation.

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