BetaBoston: UMass Medical School, MassHealth partnership giving new moms help via texts

June 08, 2015

A technological partnership between UMass Medical School and MassHealth aims to help new moms meet the challenges of infant care and improve their postpartum care through text messages, according to an article published by The Boston Globe’s BetaBoston online newspaper June 5.

“The messages cover a range of topics: prenatal care, appointment reminders, how to avoid substance abuse, child care, injury prevention, and safe sleep,” Rossana Valencia-Hoang, a project director at UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, told BetaBoston. Valencia-Hoang said some women who are MassHealth members don’t go to their postpartum appointments and will not visit a doctor until they are pregnant again. “It’s really an opportunity to screen the mom for depression, and engage the mom and continue their care.”

The messages are part of the free, national Text4Baby program and were customized by changing national web pages and phone numbers to information targeted for Massachusetts residents.

More than 1,600 women have signed up for the text messaging service since it was launched in Massachusetts last September. They receive about three text messages a week, Valencia-Hoang told BetaBoston.

“It was a national program that we could latch onto and customize,” Robin Callahan, deputy Medicaid director for policy and programs at MassHealth, told BetaBoston. “And the beauty of it is that it taps into technology that people actually have and use in the course of their ordinary life.”

The texts offer tips and appointment reminders.

Callahan and Valencia-Hoang told BetaBoston that the data collected from participants will help them ascertain the areas in which better services are needed. 

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