I first became interested in non-communicable diseases and their intersection with poverty when I was a during my masters of public health, when spent 3 months in Rio de Janeiro studying diabetes and hypertension. I was very interested in why, with free and available medications, and an active community health worker system the majority of patients still didn’t have their diseases under control. Now, as a health policy PhD student I am especially interested in non-communicable disease policy. I travelled to Chile this summer to better understand the structural and behavioral reasons for uncontrolled non-communicable diseases (primarily hypertension and diabetes). While in Chile I collaborated with researchers at the University Catolica de Chile in Santiago to evaluate an innovative health care program: the text message appointment reminder system for non-communicable disease patients. This evaluation will not only help us to better understand reasons for continued non-control of disease in a population that has free healthcare and medications, but will also assist the ministry of health in understanding the direct and indirect effects of the program. Our results show positive externalities: the number of appointments for patients not enrolled in the program increased due to the program, as the text message included a rescheduling option. We are now in the process of gaining access to individual level-health data to attempt to measure the health effects of this and other programs.
August 30, 2018