So the 1st text message (SMS) was sent today (3rd December 2012) 20 years ago. Like many inventions, the true value emerged rather than being born fully identified. Until the technology existed within a critical mass of customers to use SMS, uptake was restricted. Now we wouldn’t be without SMS, even if it’s just to make appointments or say we’re running late.

Although SMS use in the UK is waning, thanks to emergence of Twitter and BBM (Blackberry Messanger), it’s still here to stay. After all, we still use phones, technology developed 140 years ago.

SMS forms a lynchpin in the mobile health initiatives that are essential to healthcare in the developing world. Mobile phones are ubiquitous and even the most remote areas have reception (rural Wales take note!). Although you don’t need a smartphone to send or receive SMS, the rapid uptake of smartphones in the emerging markets presents even more opportunities for mobile health applications.

The Bottom Line

So what does this mean for Medical Information folks?

  • It’s another reminder that you don’t always know or can predict how valuable your technology advances will be pre-launch. The SMS was part of the setting standards for Global System for Mobile Communication project, rather than a discrete project in its own right.
  • We need to consider all platforms for engagement, not just phone and email. All companies do this but what is holding them back? Compliance? Lack of demonstrable value? Avoidance of risk taking?
  • Is there a place for SMS for Medical Information? We all hate too much email but what about replacing an email with a SMS? For example, alerting reps that their healthcare professional query has been answered? Pushing out a web link to a customized answer? These are just 2 ideas. I certainly know of others but confidentiality restricts sharing here 😉