Texting as healthcare tool shows promise

An in-depth examination of research literature regarding the use of text messaging as a healthcare tool indicates texting can benefit patients and boost treatment initiatives in several ways.

A new study, "Use of Mobile Phone Text Message Reminders in Health Care Services: A Narrative Literature Review," released this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research from three Finland researchers, reveals 77 percent of studies, 46 of 60 reviewed, noted improved outcomes in patient care when text is used to remind patients about medication intake, appointments and lifestyle reminders.

"The findings of this literature review are encouraging," according to the study's authors. "Although no firm conclusions can be drawn so far, mobile phone text message reminders may be a potential method in healthcare systems. Given the widespread use of mobile phone text message reminders among different patient groups, it may have the potential to improve adherence to medication and attendance at clinical appointments globally."

The study focused on how SMS technology is being used, its impact on health and how the technology is being assessed. The most common patient groups for text efforts have been those suffering from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, asthma and schizophrenia, according to the report. In a majority of the efforts, 63 percent, mobile messaging was deployed to remind patients about medication or treatment and to boost attendance to clinical appointments.

The news comes in the midst of an increasing use of text messaging in the healthcare realm.

A recent study illustrated texting can boost knowledge of cervical cancer and be a viable approach in prompting Korean women to undergo a Pap test. Text messaging is also proving to help teenagers prone to binge drinking and is deemed to be a viable tool in helping Medicaid patients adhere to a medication regimen.

A recent study on mHealth's potential to help homeless veterans indicates mobile messaging would prove beneficial in helping ex-military personnel with healthcare needs, as a majority of veterans polled are interested in receiving mobile communications for  appointment reminders, and 88 percent would welcome calls or texts regarding needed appointments.

For more information:
- read the research paper

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