Mobile Tech Targets AIDS

She helped found WellDoc when she noticed that regardless of socioeconomic background, nearly all of the people who walked into her clinic owned cell phones.

"We wanted something to provide diabetes coaching in real-time to patients," she said. "We used that technology to deliver just-in-time, relevant, personal health care information."

But she concedes that several obstacles need to be overcome.

One of the biggest hurdles for health care practitioners is inadequate compensation, she said.

"If we're going to ask nurses and doctors to use mobile technology ... we need to reimburse them more," she said.

Another significant barrier is that many Americans use contractual, post-paid cell phone plans. South Africa's "please call me" system doesn't have a parallel in the United States.

Customers would need to opt-in to a personalized program or a cell phone carrier would need to co-brand an embedded message, WellDoc president Anand Iyer told ABCNews.com.

When cell phone companies broadcast service messages to their customers, they could agree to include a pro-social message encouraging people to get tested or seek treatment for a specific illness, he continued.

In the next 18 to 24 months, Iyer said, these kinds of partnerships might begin to surface.

"We definitely aren't there yet," Clough said. "But is this the direction in health care? My answer is yes."

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