NPR highlighted a JAMA article that found that patients with coronary heart disease who received texts with “motivating and informative messages” were more likely to make health-conscious behavioral changes than patients who did not receive texts.

This is likely just the beginning of the use of smartphones, personal technology, and the like to influence public health. I expect more studies performed and more apps developed in this area.

Further, the use of social media, in particular, is likely to make its way into how health providers interact with patients. In a similar way to how consumers now feel that they can more directly interact with sports and movie stars through tweets and posts, patients will soon interact similarly with hospitals and providers. These providers are going to need to embrace the fact that their patients will rate their health experience on-line for others to see and will communicate with friends and family before, during, and after their health encounters about the quality of care they receive.

Luckily, social media also gives providers an avenue to improve care. With the recent push to improve the “continuity of care” or “coordination of care” across settings, social media provides a unique tool to help in that area. If they are smart, hospitals and physicians will learn how to leverage the power of social media to reach more people more often, significantly increasing the level of impact they have on the quality of care delivered and the overall health of the population.

Here’s the NPR article: