text4baby: The Power of Public-Private Partnership
More than 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday each year in the U.S. Text4baby, the first free health text messaging service in the U.S., addresses this issue by providing pregnant women and new moms accessible, relevant health information—via text messages.
Well on its way to 1 million subscribers, text4baby was created, launched and promoted by an unprecedented, public-private partnership.
Over 85% of Americans own a cell phone and 72% of cell users send or receive text messages. Yet, the power of these devices as behavior change tools is just being uncovered. Much attention goes to smart phone applications, yet the health needs of low-income and under-served populations are often most pressing. Everyone has a vested interest in child health, yet few programs have garnered support like text4baby.
What are the lessons of text4baby? And, how can tech, public health, and employer communities learn from its success?
Jennifer Benz is founder and CEO at Benz Communications, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on benefits and strategic HR communication. Benz Communications created the text4baby Employer Toolkit to help companies integrate text4baby into their maternity education.
Jen has been on the leading edge of employee benefits communication for over 10 years—starting with early adopter consumer-driven health plan implementations and now with innovative wellness and social media strategies. Her work has been recognized by Business Insurance, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Profit Sharing Council of America and others.
A well-known expert in employee benefits communication, Jen contributes to Employee Benefit News, blogs regularly, and has published articles and is widely quoted in many trade publications, including Employee Benefit Adviser, MWorld, The Conference Board Review and Workforce. She speaks frequently on topics such as health care reform, social media and improving results through effective communication.
Kimberly A. Bassett is the Executive Director of The Wireless Foundation. In this role, she is responsible for the Foundation’s charitable programs that enhance America’s communities through wireless technology. Most recently, she has helped to launch an unprecedented public-private partnership, text4baby, a free mobile health service for expectant mothers. This award-winning initiative, involving stakeholders from the White House to community health workers across the country, demonstrates the wireless industry’s commitment to giving every child a chance at a healthy start and a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.
Ms. Bassett joined The Wireless Foundation after having served as Director of External Affairs for Verizon Washington, DC, where she was responsible for community engagement, government relations, employee advocacy and management of the Verizon Foundation. She worked as the Director of Programs and Partnerships for The Stephen Case Foundation, an initiative to bridge the digital divide in underserved communities. Kimberly served as a presidential appointee in the Clinton Administration under U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, in the America Reads Challenge, a four-year national campaign to promote the importance of all children reading well and independently by the end of the 3rd grade. She has also worked in many other capacities within the Democratic Party.
In her spare time, Kimberly serves on the boards of the Family Online Safety Institute, Web Wise Kids, The Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School Foundation and the Step Afrika Dance Company. She also serves on The Women in Wireless and Qualcomm’s Wireless Ed Tech advisory boards.
Ms. Bassett holds a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Arts from North Carolina A&T State University.
Paul Meyer is Co-founder, Chairman and President of Voxiva. Founded in 2001, Voxiva is a leading global provider of interactive mobile health information services. Voxiva was named one of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company in 2011. Voxiva solutions are used by leading public and private health organizations in 16 countries around the world for health prevention and wellness, patient monitoring and support. In early 2010, Voxiva and its partners launched Text4baby, a free SMS information service for pregnant women and new moms that is the largest mobile health service in the US.
Before Voxiva, Paul co-founded IPKO, the leading Internet Service Provider and mobile phone operator in Kosovo. Previously he was a Senior Fellow at the Markle Foundation, Chief Operating Officer of Endeavor, and worked for the International Rescue Committee. From 1993 to 1995, he served as one of President Clinton's White House speechwriters and worked on the 1992 Clinton Campaign. He has a law degree from Yale and studied Politics at Oxford. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was named a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. MIT's Technology Review Magazine named him a Technology Pioneer and their 2003 Humanitarian of the Year.
Sarah Ingersoll is the text4baby Campaign Director. She has worked in social marketing and philanthropy for over 15 years. She started her career at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, then served as a Chief of Staff within the U.S. Department of Justice where she produced award-winning media campaigns with MTV, the Ad Council, and Saatchi & Saatchi. After DOJ, Sarah was Executive Director of a national youth violence prevention campaign initiated by President Clinton. She then consulted on a range of projects that engaged filmmakers, musicians and celebrities on behalf of grassroots causes. Most recently, Sarah served as an Investment Advisor to the Democracy Alliance and to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and was Director of Member Relations for Brave New Films. Sarah has a Masters in Education from Harvard University.
Director, Corporate Equity
Johnson & Johnson
Susan Can began her career with Johnson & Johnson in 1999 and joined the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Equity Group as Director in February 2011. In her current role, Susan leads Johnson and Johnson digital strategy for the group and oversees several US and Global cross-sector partnerships. Susan’s current areas of focus include mobile health and digital philanthropy.
Susan is passionate about the opportunity mobile technology brings to health management and education.
Prior to joining the corporate equity team, Susan spent 12 years at Johnson & Johnson’s surgical company Ethicon Endo-Surgery in a number of marketing leadership roles. Most recently, Susan led the worldwide brand and digital marketing teams. Prior to that, she managed several product and procedure marketing areas, including the company’s entry into both the obesity and plastic surgery markets.
Susan has 20 years of healthcare marketing and management experience and holds a bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and an MA in Communications.