From the mobile health company that developed Text4Baby, arguably the best known mobile health service (and certainly the one with the most partners), comes Text2Quit, a smoking cessation program. Voxiva says the service makes use of text messages, emails and the web along with evidence-based best practices from the Surgeon General and peer-reviewed studies.
The service is personalized around the end user’s planned quit date and supports multiple quit attempts based on the users own feedback, Voxiva said. Text2Quit has a number of features that set it apart from the straightforward Text4Baby SMS service — Text2Quit even offers games to help users fight off cravings.
While there is no mention of it in the Voxiva announcement, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Text4Health task force last fall, which aimed to apply the lessons of Text4Baby to other health issues including smoking cessation, obesity, and childhood health issues.
Dr. Lorien Abroms, lead designer and author of the Text2Quit program and an assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services stated in the Voxiva press release that “studies have shown that text-based smoking cessation programs have resulted in an approximate doubling of abstinence rates. Our initial tests have shown promising results, and we are now starting a larger study to examine further benefits of this program.”
One recent study that we covered showed that no smoking cessation apps available in the iPhone App Store followed established efficacy guidelines. Another study determined that text messages helped smokers quit. Just last week the state of Rhode Island launched an SMS-enabled smoking cessation program.
According to Voxiva, Text2Quit will go to market through health plans, employers and public health departments. The hundreds of partners that Text4Baby signed on certainly makes it likely that Voxiva will succeed in building out its distribution channel.
The Text2Quit program shows that Voxiva is continuing to tackle pressing health issues with simple mobile health services: According to the CDC and American Cancer Society, 46 million in the US still smoke. That’s more than 20 percent of the population. About 17 million smokers try to quit each year but only about 1.3 million succeed. About 443,000 people die as a result of smoking, accounting for one in five of all deaths in the US. Finally, tobacco use costs the US about $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in healthcare costs.
Voxiva CEO Justin Sims makes the business case for Text2Quit succinctly: “In addition to a huge impact on quality of life, there is a compelling return on investment in smoking cessation programs for employers, health plans, and government. By doubling abstinence rates, a business can expect to see a three to four fold return from Text2Quit in the first year alone.”
Voxiva expects to launch another service that bridges the gap between Text2Quit and Text4Baby soon: Quit4Baby will target pregnant women in the US who smoke. About 13 percent of pregnant women in the US smoke, according to Voxiva’s release.
“If we can reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnant women, even by one percent, the benefits to women, babies, and society are enormous and immediate,” Abroms stated.