Text messages boost med regimen adherence for Medicaid patients

Text messaging is proving to be a viable tool in helping Medicaid patients adhere to a medication regimen, avoid missing doctor appointments and stay on track with healthcare plan goals.

A randomized clinical trial of an interactive text message-based platform, at New York-based Montefiore Medical Center's University Behavioral Associates, revealed those benefits following a two-month test period involving 67 patients and 15 care managers involved in the center's Medicaid Health Home, according to an announcement.

Self-reported patient appointment adherence increased 40 percent, patients' adherence to medication rose 12 percent and patients' care plan goal achievements increased 7 percent.

"Our goal was to understand whether mobile technology would help our care managers provide more consistent and efficient support and quality care for our Medicaid patients," Donald Bux, director of behavioral healthcare management at University Behavioral Associates, said in a statement.

Such text messaging programs are being tapped in a wide range of healthcare environments. Texting apps are being used to provide prenatal care to pregnant women living in rural locations and a year-long evaluation of text4baby revealed the free mobile information service to be effective in promoting maternal and child health. What's more, as FierceMobileHealthcare reported in June, customized text messages are proving to be twice as effective at helping smokers quit compared to self-help initiatives.

Bux said an initial worry with the Medicaid clinical trial was whether patients would embrace mHealth.

"At first we were concerned that mobile technology might feel impersonal and lead to a disconnect, but we were pleasantly surprised by how well received the program was by our patients and care managers," he said. Patients and their care managers, he added, also were able to connect with each other more easily.

The trial also focused on potential improvements in health self-management and revealed a 21 percent increase in motivation, a 26 percent spike in confidence and a 22 percent rise in patients becoming more knowledgeable about lifestyle changes needed for health reasons.

In March, FierceMobileHealthcare reported that Montefiore was exploring the deployment of text messaging services and wearable monitoring devices to help teens with diabetes and using text services for enhancing pre-op patient care.

For more information:
- read the announcement

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