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Text Messaging in Health Care


Young woman texting with cellphone.

The number of studies involving mHealth has grown exponentially over the past decade. This enthusiasm for mHealth research, including research involving text messaging interventions, will likely continue to grow. Opportunities for research in mHealth and text messaging are growing as funding agencies offer increasing support for research on the use of technological communication in healthcare. The past success and future potential of using text messaging to reach large audiences, including low-income and minority segments, at a minimal cost has caught the attention of the health research community. 

As of 2012, there were 321.7 million wireless subscriptions within the U.S., and the number of text messages sent monthly during that year amounted to 184.3 billion.(1) Because of its accessibility and ubiquity, text messaging is a cost-effective option with the abilities to reach a large audience, support provider-patient communication, deliver health information and education, and collect patient data.(2)

The implementation of a text messaging system requires some basic knowledge of SMS technology and design considerations specific to your needs and resources. This toolkit overviews the basics of short message service (SMS) technology and regulations, and provides information and tools to aid researchers in developing an effective text messaging system. 



  1. CITA-The Wireless Association, (2012). Wireless Quick Facts. Retrieved from  
  2. Adler R. (2007). Health care unplugged: The evolving role of wireless technology. California HealthCare Foundation. Retrieved from