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The George Institute is a Winner in the Google Impact Challenge

Author: Jen Thames
Category: Food and Nutrition

The George Institute for Global Health was recently awarded a Google Impact Challenge Grant for their TEXTCARE application. TEXTCARE is a personalised text messaging health support program aimed at preventing chronic diseases and other serious illnesses that develop from bad habits. Each user gets a customised text protocol program. The winners were decided by a public vote and now this charitable grant from the Google Impact Challenge will allow The George Institute to see this project to come to fruition.

How Does TEXTCARE Work?

TEXTCARE is a personalised text messaging support program that offers support to people with a range of different chronic diseases. Professor Clara Chow, Director of the Cardiovascular Division at The George Institute explains, “The types of chronic diseases that TEXTCARE will help erase include heart attack, stroke, and illnesses that come about as a result of not taking care of ourselves but are completely preventable. TEXTCARE is actually a simple solution to this very complex healthcare problem and can help millions of people around the world.”

The need for something like this is urgent because one in two Australians are affected by chronic disease. After years of research that proves how the TEXTCARE program works, The George Institute is ready to begin helping those in need of medical health reminders and start saving lives.

The Research behind TEXTCARE The George Institute for Global Health’s research division, George Clinical was a big part of the research behind TEXTCARE. Years of research have produced dramatic results in favor of how TEXTCARE messages can help improve people's health with the reminders that can spark lifestyle changes. Here are some of the research results and metrics:

People who participate in the study and received text messages were:  1.4 times more likely to exercise. 44 per cent more likely to control their blood pressure 33 per cent more likely to quit smoking Twice as likely to take their prescribed medications correctly.

In addition to these statistics, TEXTCARE has shown to impact those with cardiovascular disease and will be expanded to include COPD and asthma. There are other technological advances in airway disease research studies that are improving the studies and therefore impacting the ways that TEXTCARE can be used to help these types of patients as well. Professor Christine Jenkins tell us, “There are really two stand out technological advances in airways disease studies that have made a huge difference.

The first is the insertion of an electronic chip into an inhaler so that we can actually measure the data and time the patient took the medications, the number of puffs they took, and also the inspiratory flow to check if they’re using the inhaler correctly. So that is one really stand out advance that enables us to measure adherence and to look at the study medication use; and the second is an electronic diary card.

These electronic diary cards, a card is quite the wrong word, it’s actually a little device in to which the patient blows and it measures their lung function and it also asks them questions about their symptom control. So they fill out a symptom control questionnaire, very simple to do, using digital technology and then they blow and you measure the lung function day by day; both those things have been fantastically valuable in getting more reliable metrics in clinical trials in asthma and COPD.

The George Institute now has plans to roll out the program in India, China, and Australia. The Heart Foundation financed the initial pilot tests of the program.