Text Message Reminders Increase Medication Compliance

Reminders sent via text message can increase adherence to medication regimens among patients with chronic conditions.

Medication nonadherence is a problem that is often overlooked. Roughly one-third of patients are not compliant with their medications, either because they forgot or were uneducated on how to take them.

Medication nonadherence can be dangerous and costly. For example, patients who do not take their cardiac medications properly are at an increased risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, as well as making multiple doctor and hospital visits.

However, a study published on December 5, 2014, in PLOS One found that text message reminders can reduce the number of noncompliant patients to less than 1 in 10. In the study, 300 patients who were prescribed blood pressure and/or cholesterol medications were divided into 2 groups: those who received text message reminders, and those who did not.

The text messaging group received messages asking whether they had taken their medications for that day. Messages were sent daily for 2 weeks, every other day for 2 weeks, and then once a week for 6 months. If patients did not reply to the reminder, then they were called for help with their regimens.

Only 9% of patients in the text message group did not adhere to their regimen, compared with 25% of those who did not receive the reminders.

David Taylor, professor emeritus of pharmaceutical and public health policy at the University College London, said in a news release, "The health implications of these results are considerable from both an economic and a health gain perspective. The method is not limited to cardiovascular disease prevention and could be used for patients on treatment for other chronic diseases."

Patients with diabetes, asthma, or other chronic conditions could also benefit from such reminders.