17 August 2015

Improving patient care with SMS technology

The health industry has long utilised technology to provide better care to their patients. The advancement of technical equipment and pharmaceutical breakthroughs are undeniable, but communication with patients and caregivers is another essential element in the fight against disease and suffering.

SMS services have already been hugely successful in reducing appointment no-shows, delivering medication reminders, and scheduling regular check-ups. Below, we see three case studies that demonstrate how SMS communication is having real-world impacts on health.

Case study 1: Child vaccination reminders

The Queensland town of Gladstone became a pilot city for a pioneering program which ensures that parents are vaccinating their children against potentially deadly communicable diseases like tuberculosis, whooping cough and rotavirus.

From November 2015, Queensland Hospital and Health Service’s community health division sent SMS messages to parents of babies, reminding them of their vaccination schedules at birth, six weeks to two months, four months, six months and twelve months.

Following successful programs in New Zealand and New South Wales, Gladstone aimed to raise vaccination rates from the current rate of less than 90 percent to over 95 percent and, ideally, to total coverage.

Case study 2: Heart attack care and prevention

Sydney’s George Institute began a trial in September 2015, using SMS to try to reduce the rate of secondary heart attacks.

Heart attack survivors are particularly at risk of secondary attacks, which are twice as likely to be fatal than the first.

More than 700 survivors treated at Westmead Hospital took part in the trial. Half were sent four SMS reminders per week for six months. The trial showed that the SMS recipients were 40 percent more likely to exercise, 44 percent more likely to control their blood pressure and 33 percent more likely to quit smoking.

Researchers even compared the dramatically positive blood pressure results to medication trials.

Case study 3: Types 1 and 2 diabetes management

Medication, testing and treatment reminders are particularly useful for managing conditions like diabetes.

The University of Auckland was awarded funding to expand a two-way SMS self-management program in November 2015 after the positive results of a pilot program in late 2013.

Not only did participants with types 1 and 2 diabetes report that the program helped them manage their condition better, but it was found to improve diabetes control measurements.

The expanded program covers a variety of self-management factors, from lifestyle behaviour modules to blood glucose testing reminders. Participants will even be able to SMS their blood glucose results, which will be graphed by the researchers.

Helping patients help themselves

Business SMS has already delivered measurable benefits. Find out more about how messaging can help healthcare professionals improve patient outlooks and save lives.

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