In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an environmental scan titled “Using Health Text Messages to Improve Consumer Health Knowledge, Behaviors, and Outcomes.” The scan studied evidence on text messaging interventions from 2009 to 2012 to determine the effectiveness and acceptance of text messaging as an intervening tool in healthcare. It recognized that mobile health programs that use text messaging are rapidly expanding, from improving general health knowledge to changing behaviors to improving clinical outcomes.
The scan examined evidence from 7 systematic reviews (typically considered the “gold standard” for assessing evidence of the effectiveness of a technology or intervention), covering 60 individual studies, as well as 11 text-messaging interventions from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s Health Care Innovations Exchange. The individual clinical trials were primarily focused on health promotion and disease prevention (weight reduction, physical activity, smoking cessation) or disease management (diabetes, asthma, hypertension).
The research indicated that there was strong evidence to support text messaging as a tool for changing behavior and improving clinical care outcomes, and saw significant improvements specifically for smoking cessation, diabetes self-management, and asthma. The report also found that text messaging reminders significantly improved patient compliance, specifically healthcare appointment attendance and medication adherence. Furthermore, most of the interventions “had a positive effect on increasing patient awareness of knowledge related to health risks and behaviors”. The scan concluded:
“The trends toward widespread ownership of cell phones and widespread text message use across virtually all segments of the U.S. population will continue to support the spread of health text messaging programs. This scan provides encouraging evidence related to the use of health text messaging to improve health promotion, disease prevention, and disease management.”
This research demonstrates that there is clearly potential for health text messaging programs to become a valuable tool for healthcare providers to overcome today’s healthcare challenges.
To learn more about how you can launch a text messaging for health program, please contact us.