May 30, 2012
The first large-scale US study of its kind found that text messages were an effective way to encourage people with chronic diseases to stick to their drug regimens.
Researchers at OptumHealth -- a division of UnitedHealth Group -- in Eden Prairie, Minn., looked at nearly 600 participants with employer-sponsored health insurance as well as seniors enrolled in Medicare. They found a treatment adherence rate of 85 percent for patients receiving text messages, compared with 77 percent for other forms of reminders. Among patients with diabetes, adherence was 91 percent for those who got text reminders versus 82 percent for those who did not.
Text message reminders are used to help people with complex illnesses like HIV keep to their medication schedules. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, almost 70 percent of medication-related hospital admissions occur when patients do not stick to their regimens, costing $100 billion annually.
"Text messages and emerging technologies offer new opportunities to educate and engage patients so they can improve their health and ultimately rein in their health costs," said study leader Kalee Foreman.
The study, "Impact of a Text Messaging Pilot Program on Patient Medication Adherence," was published in Clinical Therapeutics (2012;34(5):1084-1091).
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
05.26.2012; Jackie Crosby