Texting can boost medication adherence for chronically ill patients

Mobile messaging can help boost medication adherence among chronic disease patients, but it is not a silver bullet in ensuring patients remain truly committed to prescription intake, according to research published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers, who reviewed data from 16 randomized clinical trials, found that texting can double the odds of patients sticking to medication adherence, with rates improving between 50 percent and 67 percent. However, they warned that the findings should be viewed with some caution due to the "short duration of trials" and reliance on self-reporting of medication adherence measures.

"Future studies need to determine the features of text message interventions that improve success, as well as appropriate patient populations, sustained effects, and influences on clinical outcomes," the authors said. The findings also revealed that extended use of texting for medical adherence could potentially lead to device fatigue among users and be viewed as annoying if patients don't need medical prescription help.

"It's one way to think just sending messages is simple, and people will like it," Robby Nieuwlaat, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Canada's McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, told Kaiser Health News. "But they can also be irritating at some point if you don't need it."

Text tools are helping chronic care patients avoid costly hospital re-admission scenarios, as well as keeping patients engaged with their care long after a hospital stay.

The JAMA Internal Medicine research illustrates that patients increasingly are embracing mHealth tools, Laurie Buis, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan, told Kaiser.

"There is a lot of consumer demand for these types of interventions," she said.

For more information:
- read the JAMA Internal Medicine report
- here's the Kaiser Health News article