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Software and Hosting Options

​Level 1: None to Minimal Customization

Solution for one-​way or standard response interventions

Interventions sending non-interactive one-way messages will usually require only a simple, off-the-shelf application. There are many companies that offer a ready-to-go Internet interface in which you simply enter the message and a list of recipients’ numbers. The only in-house technical requirement is access to the Internet (see figure below). Therefore, there is little or no set up involved and the fees are generally very low. Check with individual vendors for details about the features and customizability options they offer. 

Elements in a vendor-hosted system. The research staff interacts with a vendor’s server or cloud, and uses their gateway. The vendor’s system then interacts with the outside cellular service, which sends messages to users’ phones.

  • An vendor application is used to send and receive text messages; support service, limited professional services
​Common Uses
  • Public health education campaigns 
  • Emergency/risk notifications 
  • Reminders
​Features and Customizability
  • Low customizability 
  • One-way outbound or simple two-way messaging 
  • Often non-interactive to inbound text messages 
  • Bulk messaging
​Hosting/Data Storage
  • Data typically stored on vendor database or cloud, but could be stored on internal server
​Cost Considerations
  • Low up-front development costs 
  • Low to medium service fees
  • Easy set-up 
  • Low maintenance 
  • Adequate for simple projects

​C​ase Study
Simple, One-way Messages
​SMS reminders were used in a 2009 behavioral change campaign to increase adherence to sunscreen application. Researchers measured the effectiveness of sending a daily weather report followed by a motivational reminder to apply sunscreen to a group of 70 participants via SMS. This study indicated that even simple, untailored text messaging is a viable, cost-effective solution that could be effective in large-scale public health interventions.
​Source: Armstrong AW, Watson AJ, Makredes M, Frangos JE, KimballAB, Kvedar JC. Text-message reminders to improve sunscreen use: a randomized, controlled trial using electronic monitoring. Arch Dermatol 2009;145(11):12301236.


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