Text Messaging Significantly Improved Patient Adherence, Self-Care and Quality of Life, According to Center for Connected Health

Posted on September 28, 2010

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Anybody out there that is not using texting to support their marketing as well as their mobile strategy should think again…. real hard.

This study that was just released about patient improvement in medical condition when SMS text is used to help remind the patient to take their meds should set off that little bell in your head if you are responsible for marketing and sales.

BOSTON, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ — A recent study conducted by the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare, was the first to combine medication reminders with educational information, which may lead to the use of text messaging as an important way to educate patients and support positive behavior change. The Center reported that daily text messages providing medication reminders and information about atopic dermatosis (a type of eczema) significantly improved treatment adherence, self-care behaviors, skin severity and quality of life for dermatology patients. The study was published in the current issue of Dermatology Research and Practice (volume 2010).

“It is not surprising that text messaging helped patients stick with their treatment plan and take their medication as prescribed,” said Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Director, Center for Connected Health. “However, we went a step further by including educational information which, we believe, can lead to critical improvements in self-care behavior that were observed in this study.”

Following an initial visit with a trained research assistant to assess the severity of the participants’ skin condition, twenty-five adolescents and adults (mean age, 30.5 years), completed the study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Patients received daily text messages for six weeks, reminding them to continue their treatment or providing them with educational information about their condition. At the conclusion of the study, participants returned for their final visit to Mass General Hospital, where they received a second skin evaluation.

At enrollment, the majority of participants reported that they sometimes forgot to use their medication (92%) and often stopped treatment when their skin symptoms improved (88%). At the end of the six week study, 72% reported improved adherence. Over two-thirds of participants (68%) reported an improvement in the number of self-care behaviors they routinely perform (i.e., avoid using soaps or other products that could irritate skin), and 98% reported an improvement in at least one self-care behavior.

As a result, there was a significant improvement in skin severity, with 76% of participants realizing an improvement in their condition. Further, 72% of participants reported improvements in their quality of life.

“Text messaging is a cost-effective way to deliver short, concise information to patients over a longer period of time, and because it is automated, requires no extra effort from the provider,” added Kvedar. “Our study also indicates that patients are willing and ready to integrate technology, such as text messaging, into their care. It can also help to improve communication between patients and providers.”

The majority of study participants also reported that they found both the text message reminders (88%) and the educational texts (92%) helpful. All participants stated that they were willing to use technology to manage their health, and 84% would want to continue using the text messaging system.

Atopic dermatitis is a common chronic skin disease, accounting for 30% of all dermatology visits. Adherence to self-care behaviors amongst patients with atopic dermatitis has been historically low.

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Posted in: Mobile Health