The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

How mHealth Tech Is Helping Stroke Recovery

 

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Each year, nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke—an attack on the brain caused by a loss of blood flow, which can result in disabilities such as memory loss, speech impairment, and limited mobility.  

During a stroke, brain cells lose the blood flow they need to stay alive. When brain cells die, it can cause permanent disability, depending on how serious the stoke was and in what area of the brain blood loss occurred. 

More than two-thirds of stroke survivors will experience some type of disability. For patients recovering from a stroke, therapy is one way to improve the cognitive functions that are often disabled after a serious attack. 

 

Mobile Tech Improves Stroke Recovery 

In a recent study conducted by Constant Therapy, researchers found that stroke survivors who engaged in at-home therapy featuring customized brain rehabilitation software, like an app, increased their cognitive, speech accuracy, and processing speed during recovery. 

Each stroke is different, and each survivor will need different therapy to reconstruct or reconfigure the areas of the brain that suffered damage during the stroke. Constant Therapy has designed an app that allows doctors and caregivers to customize the treatment plan to focus on the different brain areas that control specific brain functions. 

The company analyzed 20 million therapy exercises, as well as 100 million data points. Combining this big data with a mobile platform will continue to improve the customization capabilities of the mHealth program. 

“The more data we collect, the better our algorithms become,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

Plus, having the therapy available in an app, and for various mobile devices, allows patients to maintain therapy programs at home, not just while they’re in the hospital. 

Stoke survivors that incorporated at-home therapies, like Constant Therapy’s app, received 5 times more therapy than those only receiving therapy at a clinic. 

The more survivors engage with the app, the faster and more thorough their recovery. Processing speed in language and cognitive exercise increased more than 80 percent for patients who completed more than 500 experiences on the mHealth app. 

 

mHealth to the Recue 

Commonly referred to as mHealth, mobile technology affords both providers and patients more control over their wellness plans, before and after a catastrophic event like a stroke, heart attack, or other serious medical emergency. 

In fact, it’s estimated that the mHealth solutions market will be worth nearly $60 billion by 2020. This includes an explosion of growth in a number of mobile services focused on monitoring, managing, diagnosing, and recovery therapies for patients and providers. 

The risk of stroke can be reduced by regular exercise, eating well, not smoking, and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol. Unfortunately, stokes can happen to just about anyone without warning. 

The good news is that we’re getting better at helping survivors get back to normalcy. And with mHealth solutions, you can engage in these treatments from the comfort of home. 

Mobile and Microfinancing

 

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Mobile’s role in microfinancing appears to be growing, which isn’t particularly shocking. Mobile finance solutions are increasing in popularity due to the ability to perform banking actions with the mere touch or swipe of a smartphone, and many microfinance institutions have implemented m-banking platforms to reduce costs, improve customer service, and extend their reach in rural areas. 

 

M-Banking Financial Service Options

Microfinance institutions offering m-banking provide services such as loan repayment, account balance checks, and voluntary savings deposits. Countries that already feature mobile money networks find m-banking provides microfinance clients with the flexibility they want to manage deposits and payments, resulting in money saved and improved financial security. 

M-banking has also proved helpful to women in the developing world, as they frequently do not have formal bank accounts, and yet are often responsible for overseeing their families’ finances. 

 

Inexpensive and Efficient

Limited capacity and costly operational expenses are among the issues plaguing many microfinance institutions. Mobile finance solves these issues by allowing for microfinance service offerings on a cheaper, more efficient scale. Additionally, MFIs act as agents for mobile network operators and banks. This subsequently allows microfinance institutions to educate themselves on mobile finance options, minus the outrageous investment costs. 

Another benefit is the ability to take advantage of mobile phone penetration in the absence of an m-banking network. MFI clients can use their phones for non-cash purposes.

MFIs interested in using mobile banking options also do so with the intention of drastically improving operations by reducing service delivery costs and cross-selling their other products. This is designed to substantially increase efficiency. 

 

The Future of African Economics

Financial technology, or ‘FinTech,’ could potentially revolutionize economic situations in many African countries. More than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa owns cellphones, but only one-third has bank accounts. Cash is still the main currency, yet more and more startup companies are putting their marks on the financial landscape. 

African FinTech companies include M-Pesa, the Kenyan money transfer system used all over Africa, as well as 22Seven, the Cape Town-based mobile app that links to user bank accounts and makes it easy to track spending, make investments, and create customized budget plans. 

Nomanini is another option. The wireless device looks like a game console and links cloud service software so informal vendors can process transactions easily from any location. Zoona is yet another African financial service that transfers money via cell phones. Other financial tools and services include Cellulant and GetBucks. 

 

The Bitcoin Element

Bitcoin is a form of mobile money featuring no tradable or inherent value and is therefore a welcome addition to Africa’s financial options. Currently BitX is more popular in Southeast Asia than Africa, but it’s entirely possible that it will catch on among African nations, especially given its African bank origins. 

What does it all mean? Mobile money is a viable option applicable the world over. As long as mobile banking and financing options are safe and secure, their popularity is highly likely to increase. 

 

SMS: King of Digital Marketing

 

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SMS is increasingly an essential part of any mobile marketing campaign, as it offers an inexpensive and highly effective way to engage with target audiences. It also provides real-time marketing messages that most people read quickly, especially compared to email. Let’s look at why SMS is such an excellent option for reaching customers and how to ensure you’re getting the results you want: 

 

Permission-Based

The mobile marketing strategy is wholly permission-based, as the user must opt in to receive messages. This establishes and fosters trust between the consumer and the business. It also allows businesses to assume consumers really want to read their messages. 

 

High Open Rate

As previously mentioned, SMS has a high open rate, as more than 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes. Email campaigns average about 22 percent, while Twitter and Facebook post rates are at about 29 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Text messages are short and to the point, unlike lengthy emails, and are also relatively infrequent.

 

Mobile-Native

More and more businesses are optimizing their websites and emails for the mobile realm, something text messages don’t require. They’re already mobile friendly! There’s no interface or training problems with SMS marketing campaigns, as most people already know how to send a text message. 

 

More Willing

Most customers are willing to share their phone numbers with businesses so they can receive promotional alerts. Even more people are happy to provide their phone numbers and receive promotional messages if they include a discount or other incentive. 

 

Here to Stay

Yet another reason SMS is such a marketing gold mine is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Most people prefer texting to getting phone calls. Additionally, despite the plethora of messaging apps and related platforms, people still gravitate toward text messages. 

 

SMS Mobile Marketing Tips

Get Permission

Whatever else, it’s important to ensure permission is granted before sending promotional text messages. Unsolicited messages and emails are never welcome, and only annoy one target demographic after another. Permission is essential and prevents promotional text messages from landing in the customer’s “spam” folder or just being deleted.

Know When It’s Appropriate

Understand when it’s best to send promotional text messages and when to remain silent. SMS doesn’t apply to every single marketing campaign, and it’s more personal than email. Follow email marketing practices for best results and avoid sending messages too often. Additionally, you should think about consumer location and the best time of day to send messages, and steer clear of overly wordy language. 

Make It Valuable

Provide consumers with something of value when sending text messages, such as an alert about an upcoming sale or event or a promo code for an exclusive discount. Messages should add to consumer experiences with the brand and not fall into the ‘self-serving’ category. 

SMS: cost effective...and just plain effective. 

How Mobile Technology Can Save Taxpayers Billions

 

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The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other “next generation” government agencies are leveraging mobile technology to save taxpayers serious sums of money. Government agencies are notorious for wasteful spending, but various departments of transportation are taking cues from the Jefferson City, MO, location, as it’s become the model and standard for saving taxpayers millions via new technologies. 

 

Mobile Maps

Mike Miller, the assistant information systems director for MDOT, told Forbes magazine all the way back in 2012 about his department’s clever use of mobile maps. MDOT had to close two major interstate highways that year, and instead of shutting them down for “eight years” while keeping two lanes open and endangering workers, the department opted to provide residents with mobile maps and apps so they could drive around the freeways. That one decision saved MDOT more than $100 million in taxpayer funds.

 

Five-Year Plan

MDOT’s former head Peter Rahn suggested an ambitious plan to save taxpayers $500 million over five years. According to Miller, the department is ahead of schedule with plan implementation, as it began work in 2010 and has already met 70 percent of its goal. Among the efforts to make the five-year plan a success are using vans equipped with video cameras that film road roughness and allowing residents to rate them. MDOT subsequently fixes the affected road as soon as possible. 

Other actions in the five-year plan include having every MDOT building and roadside access point feature wireless capabilities for employees, so no one wastes time trying to find information. The department utilizes its social media channels to provide people with updates and news, cutting communication costs. MDOT uses SharePoint to manage its records and maintain 33,000 miles of road and thousands of bridges. SharePoint use has saved the department a great deal in oversight and project management costs. 

These are only a few examples of how MDOT is reducing costs with mobile technology. 

 

e-Construction Tools

Another tech innovation saving DOT organizations and taxpayers big money is e-Construction tools. These tools are defined as processes and technology that eliminate paper use, with examples including the digitization of construction documents for distribution to stakeholders through mobile devices. e-Construction was named as a standout tool in a recent Pavia System survey, with 53 percent of DOT respondents saying they adopted e-Construction and 71 percent of respondents noting that they use such tools “widely.”  e-Construction has helped build roads, bridges, and highways, and makes for much more timely deliveries. DOT respondents also said e-Construction tools contributed to at least 76 percent of on budget construction project completions. 

Representatives for the Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Texas Departments of Transportation all applaud e-Construction tools for their ability to save money and time while increasing productivity and resulting in fewer mistakes. 

 

Challenges

With so many benefits stemming from government agencies “going paperless,” why haven’t more departments of transportation made these helpful changes? One theory is that such agencies are responsible for long-term obligations unlike private industries, which simply move on to the next project once one is completed. A lack of tools customized for project owners’ specific needs is another possible reason. Regardless, going the “pilot” route and slowly using more and more e-Construction tools will hopefully alleviate these issues. 

mHealth is Set to Explode by 2021

 

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According to a recent study, worldwide shipments of healthcare wearables will nudge 100 million by 2021, increasing the market’s value to $17.6 billion. If the forecast proves accurate, it will represent a staggering 135% annual growth rate.

Wearable technology is finding the perfect home in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s surgeries the world over. It’s a relatively recent shift in emphasis for healthcare providers, and many are still finding their feet within the digital landscape. But those who have grasped the potential of wearables, mobile technology and other digital health solutions have found it’s helped them make care more efficient, expansive and affordable.

The most penetrating breakthrough has been in the form of monitoring and controlling patient outcomes - often with technology as simple as mobile messaging. Diabetes, heart problems, asthma - countless common medical conditions can be managed with the help of mobile messaging.

Despite the promising growth forecast, the wearable device market still faces a number of challenges. Many cash-strapped healthcare providers are reluctant to invest until they can be more certain of the long term benefits - an understandable misgiving in an age when so much ‘new’ technology is rendered obsolete within a couple of years of being launched. Some healthcare providers are also concerned about the task of aggregating and analyzing huge volumes of data in a way that will give them valuable insights into patient behavior. Mobile healthcare analysts believe this attitude will change as platforms become more widespread and user friendly. 

Then there are the patients themselves. The report found that there were issues regarding the cultivation of consumer trust in wearable technology, with a significant number of respondents saying they didn’t believe in the accuracy of the sensors, or that a device could truly deliver medically relevant information. There are concerns too about elderly patients’ reticence to use smartphone technology, or to get behind the concept of ‘remote treatment’ at all.

Nevertheless, as the market grows, so too will the competition. The more developers get into mHealth, the better it will become, and as more data is gathered, public confidence in wearable technology will grow.

Most Brands Not Ready to Meet Mobile Challenges

 

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These days, everyone is talking about mobile strategy. However, according to a new survey published by Sitecore and Vanson Bourne, most brands don’t think they’re prepared to effectively market via mobile. So what, then, is everyone really talking about? 

 

Missing the Mobile Mark

The mobile conversation lit up back when mobile usage surpassed that of desktop computers. Suddenly, everyone was paying attention to what people were doing on their phones. 

For some businesses, this meant making sure their website was mobile responsive, at the very least. And if they were really thinking ahead, marketers reimagined the mobile experience with branded apps. Unfortunately, too many apps weigh down users’ smartphones, and today chat and social apps seem to get the largest slice of the mobile pie. 

In hindsight, people have been talking about mobile for a long time; marketers saw this shift coming early, and yet now, in 2016, of the 450 brand marketers that participated in this global survey, 41 percent of the respondents said they have no mobile strategy in place, or have yet to execute the one they have. 

To drive this point home, in the same survey, 97 percent of respondents said, “they believe a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty.” In other words, most marketers know mobile is important, but more than half aren’t ready to mobilize their brand experiences.  

To be fair, the mobile landscape is somewhat uncharted territory. For executive level marketers unfamiliar with the terrain, the refocus on mobile can be a bit intimidating, if not altogether outside comfort zones.

Plus, mobile today is different from mobile five minutes ago. Take those branded apps for instance. Having an app for every store proved to be a misstep. Instead, we’re seeing more collaboration between third-party apps that unify products and services into a single experience. 

So, what are these marketers to do? Forbes says they need to define objectives carefully

At the very least, you have to know what you want your mobile plan to do, or it won’t be effective. You should also look for ways to integrate it with social media, one of the best places to find new or current consumers online. 

And finally, marketers should be proactive about the mobile experience. According to the PEW Research Center, 67 percent of people check their phone for messages, alerts, and calls. Be proactive about understanding this behavior and send relevant information to users who are already looking for new messages. 

It’s time for marketers to start realizing their mobile goals and not just talking about mobile strategy in a nebulous cloud of buzzwords and phrases. 

For small businesses looking for an edge, mastering mobile is a good place to beat out the bigger competition. According to the new survey, lots of brands are still twiddling their thumbs over mobile, so you have a great opportunity to get ahead.

Why Mobile Wallets Are Superior to Chip and PIN

 

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As banks and retailers try to avoid credit card fraud by turning to technologies like chip-enabled cards, mobile wallet solutions are still not being embraced as much as they should be.

Recently, banks launched their defense against credit card fraud by leaving the ramifications of fraudulent charges for the merchants to deal with. Merchants have thus been upgrading their equipment to accept credit cards with chips in hopes that the new and more secure technology will keep their customers’ account information secure, and customers coming back to their stores.

The problem with chip-enabled credit cards is that they’re slow to process. In the restaurant business and other industries that rely on being able to provide prompt service, seconds can add up and matter. 

 

Waiting Times for Chip-Enabled Card Processing

Imagine a grocery store clerk having to wait up to ten extra seconds for a chip-enabled credit card to process before it signals the receipt to print. Think about the frustration the clerk might endure and the delays the customers might experience. Why is this new and improved technology so slow? It has to do with the security processes. And while enhanced protection is a good thing, we think there are better solutions.

When a customer slides a chip-enabled credit card into the machine’s slot, the chip generates a one-time code that is sent to the bank over a secure network. The bank then confirms the code and sends the verification back to the machine; the customer is then able to walk off with goods or services.

 

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay as an Alternative

Instead of waiting eight seconds for a chip-enabled credit card to process, customers with iPhones, or Samsung or Android smartphones, can use mobile wallet applications at many retail locations to check out quickly. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay take about three seconds to process a transaction. Android Pay takes around seven seconds. We’ve even heard accounts of some mobile wallet processing taking only 2.4 seconds.

Granted, the length of time required to process chip-enabled credit cards is due in part to the fact that you have to insert the card, wait until the transaction is approved before signing, and then remove the card. It’s not the processing itself that takes all the time. But, with mobile wallets, all you have to do is have your app ready, tap, and scan. Of course, not all merchants take Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. So, you’ll have to check for these logos on the merchants’ cash registers or research ahead of time to see which ones use the services.

Samsung Pay is the mobile wallet that’s accepted by most merchants, because it makes use of magnetic secure transmission. This technology produces a magnetic signal that acts like the magnetic strip on traditional credit cards, which means most credit card machines can read it. More banks support Apple Pay than Samsung Pay or Android Pay. Android Pay’s advantage is that it can operate on Android devices, Samsung phones, and even iPhones and Apple Watch. 

Staying on top of security, technology, and other aspects of life comes down to looking ahead and trying to predict where things are going, not focusing solely on where things are now. Hence, it might be best to ditch the old credit card solution for good in favor of mobile wallet technology, which can be used securely on the devices that seem to run so much of our lives.

Using SMS Messaging as Customer Service Tool

 

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It’s only when you stop to reflect what life was like ten years ago that you realize just how far SMS messaging has come. Back then, text messages were still primarily used for interpersonal communication between friends and family. Now, all kinds of businesses use SMS for all kinds of reasons, all of which enhance the customer experience and just make life easier for everyone. 

Think about the text messages you receive that aren’t from people you know personally. Banks send statements and fraud alerts; taxi drivers and ride-sharing services let you know they’ve arrived via text; healthcare providers send appointment reminders and everyone from airlines and travel companies to concert promoters and delivery services send confirmations by SMS.

The reason all these organizations are using text messaging over other forms of communication is very simple: people actually read their texts. Further, most people actually read ALL of their texts - and they usually do it within a few minutes of receipt. That fact is music to the ears of marketers in any industry, when you consider how routinely commercial emails are trashed, ignored, or junk filtered before they even had a chance. With SMS, around 90% of all messages are opened and read within three minutes. And since a similar percentage of the population owns a cellphone, using it as an effective way to reach people is a no-brainer. 

And yet, one-to-one customer support is one area where SMS messaging has been slow to take off - thought that’s beginning to change. So it should, because the potential is considerable.

 

SMS Customer Service is Win-Win

Firstly, every consumer out there is a candidate for SMS communication. It doesn’t require a smartphone, so even the most committed feature phone acolyte can be reached, and 2G networks are still the most reliable. Because of the 160 character restriction, a text message doesn’t demand too much of the recipient. There’s no action required - the recipient can consider the information and make their choice as to whether it’s relevant. If not, they can opt out of receiving future messages from the brand. 

Businesses love SMS because of the aforementioned high read rate, and the personal, informal tone generally expected of the information contained therein. A mobile marketing campaign centered around text messages is also incredibly cheap compared with more traditional mass media strategies. 

But while the benefits of SMS as a marketing strategy are well understood, we’re only just beginning to see customer service-based applications of the technology. Airlines have rightly spotted the aptness of text messaging for letting passengers know about delays and cancellations. Some have started using text messaging to help reduce wait times at check in, and provide passengers with a way of interacting with the airline that doesn’t require a tedious phone call.

Building a Personal Connection with B2B Buyers

 

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People running businesses know that successfully selling products or services to consumers means making personal connections with those consumer. Buyers typically want to fill an emotional need with a purchase, so companies and brands need to set out to be the perfect entity to fill that need. A consumer’s desire to be prettier, skinnier, and happier fuels sales in the B2C market, but does that same desire translate to the B2B industry? Not exactly, but we can look to personal connection as a way to drive sales in B2B niches when we consider that business buyers too want to feel emotionally and personally satisfied. Therefore, to successfully sell to B2B buyers, you must focus your marketing efforts on creating personal value for a human, emotional B2B buyer. You can do this through many channels, including SMS marketing.

 

What Drives the B2B Buyer

 

B2B buyers often have a lot at stake when it comes to making the right decisions for their companies. They feel pressured to purchase products that will represent their businesses in the right ways, give their customers a consistent image of their brand, and show their higher-ups that they have a solid grasp of their company’s vision and values. This means that B2B buyers consider emotional needs, such as their reputation and their capability for adding value, when they look for products to purchase.

 

Call it emotional buying, ego purchasing, or making choices based on intuition. Just don’t ignore it. B2B buyers are human beings that can be influenced in many ways similar to B2C buyers. They might have facts, figures, and a company’s bottom line in mind when they make a purchasing decision, but they’re also looking for perceived value when they buy and you should be trying to give them that value. You can offer value by positioning your company as a business that’s trustworthy and reputable to work with, a creator of products that have integrity, and an organization that efficiently delivers exactly what you say you will, when you say it.

 

The Data Supports Emotion Driving B2B Buyers

 

Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council surveyed about 3,000 B2B buyers a few years ago in hopes of finding out what drives their purchasing decisions. The results of the market research showed that 50 percent of B2B buyers will probably buy from a company that they feel emotionally tied to. Compare this data to a study done by market research firm Motista, which organized baseline data from B2C purchasers, and you’ll see similar findings. 

 

The Google and CEB survey surprised many in the B2B industry because it indicated that more than 50 percent of B2B buyers approach making purchasing decisions the same way that regular consumers do, which means they look for personal value. What was even more shocking to some B2B business owners is that the research showed buyers were eight times more likely to pay a premium price for a product or service if they felt they were receiving greater personal value.

 

How to Build a Personal Connection with a B2B Customer

 

When you realize that a real person is somewhere behind every buying decision a company makes, you can set yourself up to best meet those buyers’ needs. To be the business that makes the sale, it’s important to be friendly, easy-to-work-with, and likeable. Do this, of course, by offering honest and sincere phone and in-person communication, as well as outstanding products and services. However, you should also use your SMS marketing tactics to build personal connections with B2B buyers and let them know that communication that meets their needs is important to you. 

 

You can use text marketing to stay in touch with buyers and let them know about new inventory. Follow up on purchases with personal texts that ask for product or service feedback, and inquire via text about any future purchase needs a B2B buyer might have. Let your B2B buyers know that you are respectful of their time and don’t want to send out excessive email or text blasts, but that you’re ready to serve should they have needs or problems.

Use SMS technology to meet B2B buyers where they are, which often means recognizing that they’re human beings who constantly want to stay informed and create value for their companies, and themselves. Take advantage of the opportunity to make any genuine personal connection you can with your B2B buyers, via text messaging and other means, and they’ll likely become long-time, loyal purchasers.

Mobile Technology Is Helping Science Understand More About Parkinson's Disease

 

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A new iPhone app called mPower is giving scientists more insight than ever into the capacities and challenges of people living with Parkinson’s. Nonprofit Sage Bionetworks is a biomedical research organization that collected an unparalleled amount of data through its mPower app, which included a dataset comprised of the daily experiences of more than 9,500 Parkinson’s sufferers. This dataset offers more valuable information than any other study on Parkinson’s has provided, as it takes into consideration millions of data points that were collected on an almost continuous basis through the mhealth (mPower) platform.

 

Unprecedented Data

Sage Bionetworks says that its researchers, through the use of the mobile technology marvel mPower, have received an unprecedented look into the activities and day-to-day changes that Parkinson’s sufferers experience as they deal with their condition.

In the past, Parkinson’s researchers typically relied on small-group studies and data, which included participants in only about the 100-person range. With mPower, scientists are able to view and study data on a larger scale, and the scope of the research is giving more clues as to how Parkinson’s sufferers deal with challenges and treatment pertaining to speech, dexterity, memory, gait, and balance.

 

How Does mPower Collect Data?

The mPower app collects data on the abilities or disabilities of Parkinson’s sufferers in a variety of ways, all with the intent of helping the estimated seven-plus million people living with the disease improve speech, put an end to tremors, strengthen memory, and help other degenerative conditions. 

The app evaluates dexterity by asking users to do a speed-tapping exercise, which the iPhone’s touchscreen turns into data for researchers. To measure speech ability, users talk into their iPhone’s microphone and record their pronunciation of vowels (and other difficult parts of speech) for 10 seconds. They also use mPower to track their medication intake and to see if abilities improve after taking the drugs.

The mPower app gathers data, and scientists and doctors use it to research Parkinson’s on an ongoing basis. Participants using the app are able to control who sees their data, and intended data researchers include mPower-affiliated doctors and scientists, as well as specified researchers worldwide. 

The data collected has already helped researchers view symptom variations that could assist them in intervening in ways never before considered. The mPower app, along with additional text messaging health services that encourage people to stay in communication with doctors regarding their health, has the potential to offer big breakthroughs in Parkinson’s treatment and the treatment of other diseases.