Text Messaging Helps People Take Medications: Study

Source: Tech Times

Regular text message can help people on long-term prescriptions for chronic illness in remembering to take their medicines, study finds. Patients receiving the texts called them very beneficial.
(Photo : Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Smartphones can help patients remember to take needed medications, say British researchers who found text messages prevented people from forgetting or going off their prescribed drugs.

Mistakes in taking medications are an underreported but serious issue in healthcare, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

"An important and overlooked problem in medicine is the failure to take prescribed medication," says cardiologist David Wald.

"The results of this trial show that text message reminders help prevent this in a simple and effective way. More than just a reminder, the texts provided the link to identify patients who needed help," says Wald, lead author of a study appearing in the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers took more than 300 patients' prescribed blood pressure medication or a cholesterol lowering medication or both, and divided them into a "text message" group sent recurring texts about their medications and a "no text" group who received no notifications.

Those in the first group received daily texts for two weeks, then a text every other day for another two weeks, and finally a weekly text for six months; those in the second group were sent no texts.

Those in the text group reported they found the messages beneficial.

"In general, patients really valued the text messages and were disappointed when they stopped," says Wald.

In the "no text" group, 25 percent of the patients stopped their medication completely or took less than 80 percent of their prescribed treatment, as compared to just 9 percent in the "text message" group, the researchers found.

"The health implications of these results are considerable from both an economic and a health gain perspective," said Professor of Pharmaceutical and Public Health Policy David Taylor, noting that the National Health Service estimates wasted medicines and avoidable illness costs the country around $770 million annually.

"Most people now own a mobile phone and text messaging could be coupled with each relevant prescription, preventing several thousand heart attacks and strokes in the UK each year"

Texting about medication need not be limited to cardiovascular patients and could be useful for patients on long-term medications treating other chronic diseases, he suggested.

In the United States 82 percent of adults take at least one medication, while most 30 percent regularly take five or more, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.