Healthcare News & Insights

Texts from providers help chronically ill patients

As healthcare providers are looking into new ways to engage patients and interact with them, a study shows the benefits text messaging can have for patients and their doctors. 

smartphone-doctorPatients want to use text messaging to communicate with their doctors, according to a survey conducted by the Varolii Corporation last year.

Among the 1,000 adults surveyed, 80% said that beyond their regular office visits, they want to get electronic notifications from their doctors with reminders and other information. However, only 20% have ever gotten emails from their doctor, and just 7% have received text messages.

Benefits for providers

Some hospitals have seen the benefits of using text messaging for internal communication. For example, a study earlier this year found that doctors responded more quickly after a stroke patient was admitted when they were notified via text message than with a pager.

And now a new study suggests it may be time to use texting to talk to patients, too, especially those with chronic illnesses.

A group of diabetes patients at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles participated in a program in which they received reminders and other text notifications from the hospital for a six-month period.

Each week, those patients received three reminders about taking medication, along with two healthy living tips and two trivia questions related to diabetes management.

Those patients, whose conditions were poorly managed previously, researchers said, decreased their blood glucose levels by more than 1%, and their medication adherence also improved (from 4.5 to 5.4 on a self-reported eight-point scale).

In addition, 36% of the patients in the texting program made emergency room visits during the six months, compared to 52% of other patients.

And in a survey conducted at the end, 93% of patients said they enjoyed receiving the messages and all said they would recommend the program to a friend or family member.

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