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mPulse Mobile Partners with Harvard Medical School to Evaluate the Impact of Tailored Text Message Programs to Activate Medicaid Members

Harvard researchers to assess effectiveness of targeted and interactive text messages with two projects encouraging disease management and primary care visits with Gold Coast Health Plan

Los Angeles, Calif. (April 26, 2017) – Mobile health engagement leader mPulse Mobile today announced a new partnership with researchers at the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School (Harvard) to evaluate the impact of interactive, tailored text messages with a Medicaid population through the implementation of two distinct programs. Specifically, one program will evaluate whether interactive text messaging helps new members select and visit a primary care clinician soon after enrolling. The second program hopes to activate members with chronic conditions, such as asthma, to enroll and engage in a disease management program. Of all U.S. health problems, chronic diseases are among the most preventable. Treating individuals with chronic diseases accounts for 86 percent of the nation’s total healthcare costs, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the evaluation of both programs, two-way, tailored text messages will be delivered to a population of Gold Coast Health Plan(GCHP) Medicaid members. The Ventura County, California-based health plan works with roughly 200,000 Medi-Cal members. While one-way, notification-based text messages have been widely used by healthcare organizations for years, research to determine the effectiveness of interactive text messaging programs tailored to targeted populations is limited. This reason, among others, was why Harvard was eager to work with mPulse Mobile to assess the solutions’ abilities to yield positive results.

“There is a major need for innovation in care delivery and how we can engage patients outside of just the office visit,” said program researcher and associate professor of healthcare policy and medicine, Harvard Medical School, Ateev Mehrotra, MD, MPH. “I’ve spent much of my career studying the ability of different interventions to drive advancements in population health management, and I’m excited about the possibility for mPulse Mobile to engage individuals in their health using tailored and interactive text messaging to improve outcomes and lower costs.”

According to GCHP, management of chronic conditions like asthma is often unsatisfactory, leading to inadequate treatment and adherence to treatment. For this reason, one of the two mobile engagement programs will focus on increasing program enrollment and personal health engagement. Participating members will be prompted via interactive text messages to sign up for and participate in the GCHP asthma disease management program.

“We offer members targeted strategies for helping manage chronic conditions, working with them to achieve their best possible health,” said Nancy R. Wharfield, MD, associate chief medical officer, Gold Coast Health Plan. “mPulse Mobile’s solutions are based on its deep understanding of the unique challenges health plans face in managing Medicaid and other vulnerable populations, and it’s demonstrated time and again its ability to design effective mobile engagement strategies. We’re looking forward to seeing learnings from these programs applied industry-wide.”

The second mobile engagement program was developed to determine if text messages are an effective tool for activating new and existing plan enrollees to utilize primary care services. Newly-insured members may feel overwhelmed when faced with navigating the healthcare system, understanding their benefits and identifying in-network physicians. Language and cultural barriers can contribute to member disengagement, which can lead to unrecognized chronic illness and unnecessary visits to the emergency department. Specifically, the program will examine if tailored text dialogues can impact primary care provider selection, utilization of preventive care services and screenings and incidence of chronic illness.

“Harvard’s interest in studying the efficacy of these programs further validates the need for innovative mobile solutions that reach members and drive engagement, particularly with underserved populations,” said Chris Nicholson, CEO, mPulse Mobile. “We’re thrilled to work with Harvard and our customer Gold Coast Health Plan on this research and continue proving text messaging’s positive impact on health outcomes.”

Research funding for both projects will be provided by California Health Care Foundation. CHCFs Health Innovation Fund supports innovative approaches to improving care delivery to the benefit of underserved Californians.

About Gold Coast Health Plan

Gold Coast Health Plan is an independent public entity created by County Ordinance and authorized through Federal Legislation. However, Gold Coast Health Plan is not a county agency. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved implementation of a County Organized Health System (COHS) model, transitioning from fee-for-service Medi-Cal to managed care, on June 2, 2009. The purpose of Gold Coast Health Plan is to serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries, enhance the quality of healthcare, provide greater access, improve service and provide choice. The Plan provides health benefits to nearly 203,000 beneficiaries in Ventura County, Calif. To learn more about Gold Coast Health Plan, visit us at:


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