Text Messaging Medication Reminders

Adherence is something adult patients have always struggled with and physicians are now noticing that younger patients are facing the same issues and more.

At a time when most worry about the health risks posed by the use of cell phones, others have found a way to employ this simple technology for health benefit.

Doctors in Cincinnati are testing using text messaging as a method of encouraging tween patients (aged 9 -12) to take their medications for chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease. The text messages are sent as reminder notices by a volunteer “text-messager” from the physician’s office when it is time for them to take their medications.

Adherence is something adult patients have always struggled with. Physicians are now noticing that younger patients are facing similar issues compounded with those that come with adolescence. Studies also show that the more complicated the medication regimen and the worse the side effects, the less likely younger patients are to adhere. Young patients, at a stage when they are gaining a little of their own independence from their parents, also face pressures of fitting in and the traditional teen angst. While parents may take an active role in their tween’s health, tweens are apt to forget, ignore, or rebel against them. Physician offices sending their tween patients reminder notices via text message is a simple method of encouraging adherence outside of the parental realm.

While this method may not be foolproof, it is another method of encouraging medication adherence by using a technology that is affordable, readily available, and even already owned by most. A test pilot is currently underway, with a full scale study set for later in the year. If successful, this low-cost measure could save on healthcare costs by preventing medication-related office and emergency room visits.