ONC Announces Text4Health Task Force

In an article titled, “Use of electronic communications with patients,” posted to this blog on December 18, 2009, I discussed the stated goal under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act  to “[p]rovide patients and families with timely access to data, knowledge, and tools to make informed decisions and to manage their health.” The article explored whether and to what extent patient messaging, including text messaging, might be used to achieve this HITECH Act goal.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also is exploring ways to integrate text messaging into individual health management.  On September 19, 2011, HHS announced the formation of the Text4Health Task Force, with specific recommendations that support health text messaging and mobile health (mHealth) programs.  The HHS press release states: “The department has been actively exploring means to capitalize on the rapid proliferation of mobile phone technology and platforms, such as text messaging, to develop programs and/or partnerships with the overall aim of improving public health outcomes.”  The HHS press release cites certain smoking cessation programs that utilize text messaging as representative of the direction in which this technology can be further exploited to improve population health.  Among its recommendations, the Text4Health Task Force includes a recommendation related to electronic health records (EHRs) and, more specifically, recommends that “HHS align health text messaging/mHealth activities with other HHS Health IT priorities.”  To read the HHS Text4Health Task Force recommendations, click here.

Leave a reply. Please note that although this blog may be helpful in informing clients and others who have an interest in information privacy and security, it is not intended to be legal advice. The information on this blog also should not be relied upon to form an attorney-client relationship.

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