It is estimated that one-third of patients do not take their prescriptions as instructed and/or just forget to finish the regime of pills they should have taken. This leads to more returns to doctors and emergency rooms for ailments that are preventable.
The study estimates that over five hundred million pounds is wasted every year on patients who stop taking their medication prematurely or for chronic conditions. Sending out text messages has proven to increase the uptake of these medicines by sixty-four percent.
“An important and overlooked problem in medicine is the failure to take prescribed medication. The results of this trial show text message reminders help prevent this in a simple and effective way. More than just a reminder, the texts provided a link to identify patients who needed help,” said study lead author Dr. David Wald.
Doctor Wald sees text reminders being used by general practitioners, hospital emergency room doctors and pharmacists for anything from a treatment of antibiotics to those with diabetes or tuberculosis.
For the study, researchers used three hundred three patients split into two groups – those that received texts and those that did not receive texts. The patients had already been prescribed blood pressure medication and/or cholesterol lowering medication.
Those patients who were receiving regular texts to take their medication only had nine percent stop taking their medicine as directed, as compared to twenty-five percent of the group that did not receive any reminders.
With statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention noting eighty-nine percent of American adults take at least one medication with twenty-six percent are taking five or more, the results of this study could prove quite useful in medicine today.
Not only do most people own a cell phone and carry it with them everywhere, the text alerts alone could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes that may be caused by patients just not taking the medicines to prevent them.
The study was published in the journal Plos One. And while it is a study done in the United Kingdom, the implications stretch worldwide.
(Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker)