A leader in providing accessible, culturally-relevant health information, mPulse Mobile’s platform supports text messaging in 13 languages and sends over 250 million messages per year to patients, aiming to increase patient engagement and improve communication through meaningful, interactive dialogue.
Searching for the most effective means to connect with patients amidst the pandemic, mPulse digitized an established tool to improve knowledge and health awareness: the fotonovela ,. Fotonovelas are a form of sequential storytelling, using illustrations for images and are often accompanied by dialogue bubbles – think comic strip or graphic novel (see Figures 1-3). mPulse’s mobile fotonovelas, offered in both English and Spanish, are digital visual stories sent via text message that show positive role models and engage patients and members in a culturally and linguistically relevant way.
The success of mPulse’s Fotonovela program is evidenced in two case studies: the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) and for another health client in Cook County, Illinois. IEHP launched a pilot to members across Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California to address social isolation in response to the stay-at-home order declared in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicare populations engaged at higher rates than previous programs (14.8% compared to < 8%) when presented with a fotonovela, and Spanish speakers engaged at a 1.6x higher rate than English speakers.
In Cook County, Illinois, a county particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and one affected significantly by social determinants of health (SDOH) issues , fotonovelas were key to driving impact. Overall engagement with healthcare messages containing a fotonovela was over 15%, and for Spanish speakers, engagement was over 35%. More than 82% of respondents, when surveyed, said they liked or loved the fotonovelas.
Taken together, these two client case studies suggest that mPulse’s mobile fotonovelas are not only an effective channel that can be used to reduce cultural and linguistic barriers when disseminating health information, but also the higher level of engagement may positively impact disparities in COVID-19 patient outcomes.
 Per mPulse SDOH Index
A special thanks to SJF Venture Fellow Michelle Moglia for her contributions to this case study in 2020.