Text4Baby helps employers promote maternal health tips

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 1, 2012        

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Text4babyPhoneText4Baby has partnered with Benz Communications to develop a maternal health “toolkit” for employers that aims to help them promote the Text4Baby service and other maternity benefits to employees.

Text4Baby is a free, SMS-based health information service for new and expectant mothers. It is available in both English and Spanish.

Here’s how the (former) White House CTO Aneesh Chopra described the Text4Baby service when he officially launched it two years ago: “The US government is formally announcing the launch of Text4Baby, [a free health service] designed to take advantage of the capabilities of cell phones, which have 90 percent penetration in the US. Starting today, women can text the word BABY or in spanish BEBE to 511411 and be automatically enrolled at no charge. The service provides at least three free text messages each week and [lasts during and shortly after the pregnancy]. The messages explain some of the experiences they may be going through and suggests ways for them to” keep themselves and their baby healthy.

Text4Baby launched in February of 2010, but we first mentioned it in a report back in 2009. Voxiva, which powers the Text4Baby service, recently launched Text2Quit, a similar service for smoking cessation. Alere is offering the smoking cessation service thanks to a licensing agreement with Voxiva.

A number of efficacy studies on the Text4Baby program are in the works, including one recently announced by HHS that will look at health outcomes from EHR data.

The Text4baby Toolkit offered by Benz and Text4Baby is free for employers to download and includes “ready-to-use templates that can be customized and integrated into existing benefits communication programs and channels,” according to the companies. The kits include program information sheets, benefits guide content, newsletter article template, wallet card, and even suggestions for messages employers can send out on Twitter to promote the service.

More in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Feb 01, 2012 — Benz Communications and text4baby today announced the release of the free Text4baby Toolkit for Employers. The Toolkit helps employers quickly and easily promote text4baby and other maternity benefits available to their employees. Text4baby is a free, bilingual health education text messaging service for pregnant women and new moms. Benz Communications is a leading HR and benefits communication strategy boutique.

The Text4baby Toolkit, downloadable free of charge at text4baby or Benz Communications, provides employers with ready-to-use templates that can be customized and integrated into existing benefits communication programs and channels. It includes a program information sheet, benefits guide content, newsletter/intranet article, wallet card, sample Tweet and suggestions for promoting text4baby. Free, print-ready promotional posters and referral cards, in English and Spanish, are also available.

Despite decades of public health outreach and education, each year in the United States more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely, and approximately 28,000 children die before their first birthday. These negative outcomes are caused by many factors, including unhealthy behaviors and poor health care access. Research shows that targeted education can increase knowledge, thus promoting good health.

Employers have a vested interest in infant health and educating parents. In addition to the tremendous emotional toll on families, preterm birth is one of the most expensive complications of pregnancy in the United States. Nearly half of the total $26 billion annual cost of preterm births falls to employers and other private insurers. Text4baby helps employers meet their goals to improve health education and outcomes.

Launched in 2010 by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), and made possible through a broad, public-private partnership, text4baby leverages cell phones to educate and inform first-time and experienced moms with practical tips, resources and alerts about pregnancy and infant care. Moms-to-be and new moms who sign up for text4baby (by texting BABY — for texts in English — or BEBE — for texts in Spanish — to 511411) receive three text messages per week until their baby’s first birthday. In its first year of service, text4baby enrolled more than 250,000 users; it aims to enroll 1 million participants by the end of 2012.

“More than 85 percent of Americans own cell phones, and 72 percent of cell phone users send or receive text messages. With user figures like these, mobile phones have the potential to play a significant role in health care and behavior change,” explained Judy Meehan, CEO of the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. “Text4baby’s power lies in its ability to get the most essential evidence-based health information to mothers in need quickly and easily using a technology they regularly use and rely on,” Judy concluded.

“The Text4baby Toolkit for Employers makes it easy for any company to promote text4baby, and gives them simple ways to educate employees and their families about existing maternity programs. This free toolkit — along with the exciting text4baby program — will help employers bring attention to one of their most pressing health care issues while giving them a modern, relevant and fun tool to promote to employees,” stated Jennifer Benz, founder and chief strategist of Benz Communications. “We created this Toolkit pro bono because we are so passionate about this health issue and believe employers have an opportunity to create a tremendous impact by promoting the unique text4baby program.”

About text4baby Text4baby is made possible through a broad, public-private partnership that includes government agencies, corporations, academic institutions, professional associations, tribal agencies and nonprofit organizations. Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor. The founding partners are the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, CTIA-The Wireless Foundation and Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company). Text4baby’s U.S. government partners are the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The mobile health platform is provided by Voxiva, and free messaging services are provided by participating wireless service carriers. Implementation partners are BabyCenter, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems, the HIMSS Electronic Health Records Association and The George Washington University. Additional information about text4baby may be found at http://text4baby.org .

About Benz Communications Benz Communications is a benefits communications strategy boutique creating integrated employee benefits campaigns for employers committed to nurturing high-performing and satisfied employees. Benz Communications’ clients include Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. They have also created a group of innovative toolkits and products to help small and mid-size companies educate employees about health and financial benefits. Additional information about Benz Communications may be found at http://benzcommunications.com .