Text messaging can be an invaluable tool according to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center pediatrician Delphine Robotham. Research has shown that up to half of the patients may fail to take their daily medication properly because they forget so in some cases, a text reminder may be all that a patient needs, adds Robotham.
Several recent studies have looked at the use of short message service (SMS) or text messaging in a medical context. According to Robotham, one study involving children with diabetes showed improved blood glucose testing rates and the children were more likely to share their blood glucose text readings with their doctor’s office.
In another study patients on immunosuppressive drugs after a liver transplant improved their medication adherence. The study detected measurable clinical benefits from text messaging with acute liver rejection episodes dropping dramatically as a result of better medication adherence.
Hopkins Children’s TB expert Sanjay Jain, M.D reports that texting is even a more popular way to communicate outside of the U.S. especially in developing countries. This is a great way to reach hard-to-reach patients, according to Jain.
Hopkins Children’ may soon formalize the use of this technology. Pediatric HIV expert Allison Agwu, M.D. is preparing to launch a formal study that has been using texts to remind her patients of follow-up appointments with good response so far.
The doctors agree that texting is not always a substitute for all communication, as it may be expensive and it doesn’t always ensure reaching a patient who may have changed their number or lost their phone.