5 stories, studies on how texting can improve health outcomes

Once a simple form of communication, text message-based interventions are proving to be an effective way to monitor and improve patient care.

Here are five stories and studies regarding texting in the healthcare environment to help improve outcomes.

1. Young adults who received weekly text messages regarding healthy alcohol consumption practices for 12 weeks reported fewer occurrences of binge drinking as well as fewer drinks per day, found a Pittsburgh-based UPMC study.

2. Patients who received automated reminders to complete fecal occult blood testing, which included text message reminders, were more likely to complete a FOBT. Eighty-two percent of patients receiving the reminders completed the FOBT within six months of the screening date, while only 37 percent of the control group did the same.

3. Pregnant women who received text messages regarding neonatal health reported adopting healthier behaviors and improving their health status. Mothers receiving the text messages reported an increased belief in the importance of visiting healthcare providers regularly as well as understanding the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

4. A study in Pediatrics found texting personalized directives or medical advice to teenagers with chronic illnesses can help them better manage their symptoms than teenagers who received the same information in standard mail or email.

5. UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Pennsylvania launched two text message-based wellness programs for their beneficiaries, promoting healthy behavior and assisting them to better manage their health. The wellness programs, one geared toward adults and one toward children, send medication and appointment reminders, as well as diet and exercise tips.

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