Friday, August 27, 2010

Mobile phones improving health literacy and empowering pregnant women and moms

Here's an interesting press release:


Mobile Technology Leveraged to Improve Health Literacy in India and Around the Globe

(San Francisco) – August 9, 2010 – BabyCenterÒ, the #1 pregnancy and parenting destination worldwide, today announced the launch of a new program to adapt its content and experience to the most basic type of mobile phones, starting in India. In an effort to reach underserved women in emerging markets, this new BabyCenter application brings pre-natal and maternal health information to previously hard-to-reach women and encourages positive behavior changes. This population can now receive essential trusted health information and useful tips on their mobile phones through a combination of daily SMS and voice recordings in English and Hindi.

“More than 20 million moms around the globe look to BabyCenter each month for advice, support and vital information about their maternal health,” said Tina Sharkey, Chairman and Global President of BabyCenter. “But the reality is, there are large populations of women in developing nations who don’t have access to books, the Internet, or even regular visits with their healthcare professionals, but they do have mobile phones. The continued growth of mobile will be the inflection point for billions of people to become empowered to take an active role in their own health.”

There are more than 130 million babies born every year around the globe. Only 1 in 5 is born to a mother with access to the Internet, yet 3 out of 5 of those mothers have mobile phones.

The ability to communicate direct-to-consumer and to engage women in a personal, emotional way -- combined with the provision of basic educational material -- strives to impact smarter decisions, more effective use of the health system, and ultimately, better outcomes. This program is part of BabyCenter’s ongoing commitment to extend its information services platform to mothers around the world and to empower these women to take a proactive role in their own maternal journey.

Thus far, early consumer trials in India among lower - and middle-class women in Delhi have been encouraging. Access to personalized, private information from a trusted source has been an emotional revelation for the women, who usually receive minimal information from their doctors and conflicting medical advice from their only other resource, their mother-in-laws.

In addition to providing information via SMS, these messages direct women to call a number where they can hear week-by-week information about their pregnancy. These one-to two-minute-long voice messages are intended to help overcome the barriers of lower education, illiteracy, language difference, and SMS limitations in the developing countries where 99 percent of maternal deaths occur.

The following quotes came from women in the trials who experienced the new BabyCenter mobile program:

“I feel like there is somebody who is there for me.” Shaila

“We don’t feel scared now.” Anjali

“We don’t have to ask anybody else. They told us some information which our parents don’t know so that is very useful.” Baljeet

BabyCenter is currently participating in a number of other maternal health projects around the globe in an effort to gain valuable insights. Also, in the developed world, BabyCenter continues to participate in innovative mobile programs which guide millions of moms in their journey through motherhood every day.

Text4baby: BabyCenter is an implementation partner in Text4baby, a free text messaging educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, serving pregnant women and new moms in the United States. This program was developed in partnership with organizations including the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Collaboration with the Grameen Foundation: BabyCenter is licensing the content that is serving as the base for the week-by-week information that expectant moms in rural Ghana will receive as part of the upcoming Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative. The Grameen Foundation, which helps the world’s poorest people, especially women, improve their lives and escape poverty through access to microfinance and technology, has launched MOTECH to determine how best to use mobile phones to increase the quantity and quality of healthcare in rural Ghana.

My Pregnancy Today iPhone Application: This soon-to-be launched stage-based pregnancy application will allow moms-to-be to receive daily updates about their pregnancy progress, have access to detailed advice from both experts and real moms on a variety of pregnancy topics, and keep a checklist of all their appointments – all on an iPhone. This new BabyCenter application is initially launching in the United States and the United Kingdom in August, with additional markets to follow.

Booty Caller: The first service of its kind, Booty Caller offers women the opportunity to receive ovulation alerts on their cell phone. Women receive a series of 18 text messages letting them know when they are most likely to be fertile, and providing advice for getting pregnant.

For more on the BabyCenterÒ mobile programs, please visit:
For a demo of the BabyCenterÒ India service, please call 011 91 11 4760 6719.

About BabyCenter®, LLC

BabyCenter® is the voice of the 21st Century Mom® and modern motherhood. It's the #1 pregnancy and parenting destination worldwide, reaching more than 8 million moms monthly in the U.S. and more than 20 million moms monthly in 22 markets from Australia to India to China. In the United States, 7 in 10 babies born last year were BabyCenter babies. BabyCenter is the world’s partner in parenting, providing moms everywhere with trusted advice from hundreds of experts around the globe, friendship with other moms like them, and support that's remarkably right at every stage of their child’s development. BabyCenter also works with some of the world’s most prominent brands and institutions to provide life-stage marketing solutions and a direct line to highly engaged moms. BabyCenter is a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

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