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The George Institute’s life saving texting program shortlisted in Google’s $4.5 million Impact Challenge

Media release: 
04/10/2016

Vote for The George Institute in the Google Impact Challenge HERE.

A project to prevent chronic diseases such as heart attack, kidney disease and diabetes via a simple text message has been revealed as one of the top 10 finalists of the 2016 Google Impact Challenge.

It was announced today the TEXTCARE program by The George Institute has been chosen to compete for four top charitable grants of $750,000, including the People’s Choice award which will be decided by public vote.

Professor Clara Chow, Director of Cardiovascular Division at The George Institute, said: “We are delighted to be finalists in the Google Impact Challenge as there is an urgent need to address the burden of chronic disease which now affects one in two Australian adults.

“Too many of us have lost loved ones to stroke or heart attack, illnesses that in many cases are entirely preventable. What we have devised is a very simple solution to a very complex problem, one that will help millions of people around the world.

“We have proven our program works through years of research, now we are ready to start helping those who need us and start saving lives.”

TEXTCARE is a personalised text messaging support program designed to support people with a whole range of chronic diseases. It uses complex algorithms to deliver SMS’s such as encouraging people to take their medications as prescribed, to stop smoking, take up exercise or eat more healthily. They cost just 10 cents a message.

Studies already led by The George Institute showed dramatic results with people receiving the texts nearly 1.4 times as likely to exercise, as well as 44 per cent more likely to control their blood pressure and 33 per cent more likely to quit smoking. Research also found the texts can double the odds of people taking their medications correctly.

The funds would be used to roll out a program in India, China and Australia for millions of at risk patients within 18 months and is being supported by The Heart Foundation.

Kerry Doyle, NSW CEO at The Heart Foundation, which has provided funding for the project from the initial pilot stage, said it was exciting to see the global potential of this intervention.

“This project is a cost effective way to significantly reduce the burden of chronic disease and the Heart Foundation is proud to have been a part of bringing it to patients not just in Australia but across the world. We encourage everyone to get behind it and vote,” she said.

The Google Impact Challenge asked Australian-based charities how they would change the world through innovative technology. The 10 finalists, announced today, were selected from hundreds of applications. They are all guaranteed to receive a $250,000 grant, as well as mentorship and training from both Google and Social Ventures Australia.

Members of the public can learn about all of the finalists and the Challenge and cast their votes until October 25th, visit the Google Impact Challenge website to find out more.