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October 22, 2013 | Europe Eurasia: Romania

Using Mobile Phones to Close the Referral Loop for Special Olympics Athletes

By Kristin Hughes

Today, it is estimated there are almost more cell phones than people, and this technology can be a powerful tool in supporting access to care. Through the launch of the Special Olympics Healthy Communities initiative in 2012, Special Olympics is utilizing health information systems to empower Special Olympics athletes, caregivers and coaches. Special Olympics Romania employed texting with much success this past winter. This pilot program involved sending text messages Special Olympics athletes’ cell phones who received referrals at a Special Olympics dental health screening. People with intellectual disabilities are one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups. All over the world, this population is denied critical health services and education. The health disparity and lack of access to care is severe. People with ID are denied health services for a variety of reasons, including stigma, lack of understanding, lack of training of health care providers and fear. Special Olympics is working to address the access issue by training health care providers on how to work with people with ID, educating families and communities, advocating and providing health screenings and exams.

About Kristin Hughes: I am the Senior Manager of Global Community Health Programs for Special Olympics

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