Could better medication adherence be just a “text away”? According to a new analysis taking a closer look at several previous studies about adherence, when patients receive text reminders about their medication, adherence rates go up. Way up.
Looking at medication adherence data from approximately 2,700 patients with chronic diseases, it was found that an intervention as simple as text message reminders doubled medication adherence rates. For this population, that meant taking adherence from about 50% to up to 68% – so an 18% uptick from simply getting a text reminder about prescribed medication.
This is an amazing improvement for very little effort. Text-based reminder systems potentially offer a simple, cheap, and effective way to keep patient medication adherence on-track.
There is one caveat with this conclusion: these studies each lasted about three months. That is a very small time horizon when considering patients with chronic diseases. For chronic diseases, medications need to be taken day in and day out for years (or even decades). It remains to be seen whether text reminders would continue to be this effective over the long haul. Additionally, the text reminders (while useful for forgetful patients) do not address other reasons for non-adherence, such as side effects or cost barriers.
Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
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Thakkar J, Kurup R, Laba TL, et al. Mobile telephone text messaging for medication adherence in chronic disease. JAMA Int Med 2016;176(3):340-9.