New information suggests that SMS text alerts can help people who have long-term illnesses to adhere to their medical treatment plans - albeit temporarily.
Researchers collated data from other studies showing the usefulness of text messages acting as reminders, and released their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).
It is thought that patients suffering from chronic conditions have difficulty in completing their drug programmes, and many scientists have previously made attempts to find methods to resolve the problem.
In a bid to come to a solution, the authors of the medical article analysed findings from other studies which have tested the effectiveness of electronic reminder services for people on strict medication programmes.
They found results from nine of the trials confirmed the benefits of electronic alerts, while the differences were apparent in eight of the experiments. The researchers also found that text messages and audiovisual devices were the most effective.
However, the authors said it is vital to examine the effects on a long-term basis. They wrote: “Patients who are adherent at first can become non-adherent over time. Automated reminders can become a routine, resulting in habituation.”
Despite this, they believe the results of their research show that electronic prompts can help people with chronic illnesses in the short term, and that healthcare practitioners can easily adopt this into their care practice so their patients can reap the benefits.
- Vervolet M, et al. The effectiveness of interventions using electronic reminders to improve adherence to chronic medication: a systematic review of the literature. JAMA 2012; Advance online publication