Future Of Health: SMS Consultation

Future Of Health: SMS Consultation

SMS services are empowering users through access and and exchange of vital information and expert opinions in near real-time.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 2 august 2010

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This post is part of a PSFK Consulting project aimed at providing insight into the Future of Health. SMS Consultation is one trend of fifteen that appears in our exploration of  how technology and access to information play a vital role in the ways that people will understand, manage and receive care whether that’s at home, in hospitals and clinics or in doctor’s offices.


Increased access to mobile phones with even basic capabilities has led to the development of SMS services that connect users, allowing for the exchange of vital information and expert opinions in near real-time. This simple format provides a trusted resource for asking time- sensitive questions, while providing an anonymous forum for gaining insights on potentially sensitive subjects.


  • Trusted and Reliable – SMS systems can build trust and encourage repeat usage by providing timely responses to questions and submissions.
  • Bite-size Info – Concise information is easy to remember and spread, while also serving as efficient use of user time and battery on mobile devices.
  • Low Tech – SMS negates the need for more advanced smartphones and cellular infrastructure in developing countries.
  • Maintains Privacy – Services can provide users with the option to maintain anonymity and privacy when asking sensitive information.

Supporting Examples for SMS Consultation

SMS Consultation 1

Service Monitors The Health Status Of Communities
ChildCount+ is a mobile health platform developed by the Millennium Villages project aimed at empowering communities to improve child survival and maternal health. Built on top of the open source platform rapidSMS, the service uses SMS text messages to facilitate and coordinate the activities of community based healthcare providers, allowing them to register patients and report their health status to a central web dashboard that provides a real-time view of the health of a community.

SMS Consultation2

Healthcare Professionals Collaborate Through Text
San Francisco-based Truth on Call has gathered a panel of physicians to answer questions through text messages. Geared towards a professional audience of media, government, pharmaceutical executives, and doctors, the service encourages critical communication between healthcare providers during situations that warrant collaboration.

SMS Consultation 3

Social Networking From Any Phone
Finnish company Sibesonke, a spinoff from Nokia Siemens Networks, has built a social networking service that is available on even the simplest phones. It gives people access to chat, classifieds and other information. the service works using SMS and the USSD text-based browsing protocol, both of which are part of the GSM technical standard, meaning there is no need to upgrade a phone or establish an Internet data connection.

SMS Consultation 4

Texting Teens Get Reliable Health Information
Mount Sinai adolescent Health Center has partnered with a mobile marketing company to develop the ‘Text in the City’ program to encourage a closer relationship with its clinic population. this initiative provides a free and reliable health education platform for teenagers through their primary means of communication, texting. the service offers a questions and answer function, birth control reminders and weekly “healthbytes.”

SMS Consultation 5

Instant Two-Way Group Messaging
FrontlineSMS is a free, open source software that enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale by turning a computer and a mobile phone or modem into a group messaging hub in any location that has a mobile signal. With the platform, users can send messages to wide groups of people and collect responses to questions or surveys via SMS, as well as manage contacts and export data to spreadsheets.

SMS Consultation 6

Identifying Fake Medicines Via Mobile Phone
The mpedigree system is attempting to establish an electronic library of medicine being distributed in developing countries. By creating a large resource of drug classifications that label drugs as illegitimate or genuine and making it available on a basic mobile platform, users from anywhere can be assured that they are purchasing or using safe medicine.

About PSFK’s Future Of Health Report


PSFK’s Future of Health Report details 15 trends that will impact health and wellness around the world. Simple advances such as off-the-grid energy and the introduction of gaming into healthcare service offerings sit alongside more future-forward developments such as bio-medical printing. The report includes concepts for UNICEF based on the trends provided by the world’s leading advertising and design agencies. It is our hope that this report will inspire your thinking and lead to services, applications and technologies which will allow for more available, quality healthcare.

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