Could Texting Improve Prescription Compliance and Save Money?
Texting is such a popular activity, why not capitalize on it as a way to help improve healthcare and save money. That is exactly what seems to be the conclusion of a recent study from Queen Mary University of London, in which the authors found that texting reminders to patients about taking their medications improved prescription compliance, which could lead to cost savings as well as save lives.
Will individuals really pay attention to such text messages? According to the authors of the new study, patients in their study who were on the text receiving list improved their pill compliance by 64 percent.
Such an improvement could save money as well as lives, especially when the medication is associated with life-threatening conditions. In this case, the patients were followed concerning their use of prescription medications for cardiovascular disease.
According to a report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America concerning patient compliance and adherence for prescription medications, the cost in the United States alone has been estimated at $100 billion to $300 billion per year. This includes the cost of avoidable hospitalizations, premature deaths, and nursing home admissions.
Noncompliance with taking medication correctly or at all is especially apparent among people who are prescribed drugs for conditions without symptoms, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. That was the group of individuals targeted in this latest study.
A total of 301 individuals participated in and completed the study. One group received text messages daily for two weeks, alternate days for another two weeks, and then one per week for six months. The other group did not get text reminders.
The text messages were generated by a computer and were customized to be sent around the time of day each patient was supposed to take medication. Each message asked the patients if they had taken their medication for that day. If texted individuals did not respond to the text, they received a telephone call. By the end of the study, the authors found that:
- 25 percent of the patients who did not receive text messages stopped taking their medication completely or took less than 80 percent of their ordered treatment
- 9 percent of patients in the text message group stopped their medication or took less than 80 percent
According to the study’s lead author, Professor David Wald, Consultant Cardiologist, the findings indicate that “text message reminders help prevent [failure of patients to take their prescribed medication] in a simple and effective way.” Text messaging also allowed the investigators to identify which patients needed assistance with their meds.
If you take prescription medication, whether it’s for cardiovascular disease or something else, be prepared. Could you be receiving text message reminders to take your prescriptions in the near future?
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Improving prescription medicine adherence is key to better health care.
Wald DS et al. Randomised trial of text messaging on adherence to cardiovascular preventive treatment (INTERACT Trial). PLoS ONE 2014 Dec 5. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114268