In today’s tech-centric world, there’s certainly no shortage of information on the negative effects technology has on our physical health. However, in recent studies, text messaging has shown that it can help people make lifestyle changes and improve their overall physical health.
A recent clinical trial leveraged text messaging to help patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFLD. The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) notes that there is no FDA approved drug to help control the disease, and if untreated, it can progress into something more serious, like metabolic syndrome. Patients looking to control or rid themselves of NAFLD must make lifestyle changes, which are usually centered around weight loss.
To help patients in their fight against NAFLD, researchers at the University of Alabama turned to text messaging. The goal of the SMS campaign was to increase a patient’s adherence to their weight loss program. Participants received three text messages per week for a six-month time frame. Page Axley, an MD involved in the program, said that “the topics of these text messages ranged broadly, from healthy eating tips to exercise to stress management.” They also included general information about the disease. Texts messages also became more customized to the participant’s program as they were prompted to reply with more specific information about their obstacles (not enough time to cook, financial constraints, etc.).
The program proved successful as the average participant lost an average of 11.2 pounds, and 5% of their weight. Additionally, their average ALT levels decreased by a mean of 20 IU/L and Serum triglycerides dropped by 41 mg/dL, which lowers their risk for metabolic syndrome. Participants also reported high satisfaction with the program, and would recommend it to family and friends.
Research is still in its infancy, as there were only 21 participants. Still, the encouraging results are a strong foundation to further test how SMS can help patients battling NAFLD on a wider scale, and how the medical community can incorporate text messaging into a course of treatments.
Some of our healthcare clients using text messaging include:
NYC LGBT Health and Human Services who used text messaging to bring a lifesaving drug to vulnerable populations.
NY Department of Health who kept HIV + patients healthy via text messaging.
The Ad Council who used SMS to launch a teeth-brushing challenge, improving oral health in children.
Benestream – who simplified insurance enrollment with text messaging.