Thursday, July 3, 2008

Text For Health, A New Twist on Tech

Technology comes up frequently when you live in the Information Age. On this blog, it rears its head quite frequently as we keep tabs on electronic medical records and online health care tools. Today I will be talking about technology, but not of any kind discussed in my prior postings. You see, today I'm going to take a look at text messaging.

While doing some online research, I ran across an intriguing press release out of the Delaware area. It seems that some doctors are using text messages with excellent results.

People stay healthier when they show up in their doctors offices for necessary health check-ups, but its sometimes challenging to get them there. Today, one Medicaid program, Delaware Physicians Care, Inc. (DPCI), is using cell phone text messaging to remind members of appointments, let them know if they have missed an appointment and inform them when they should be scheduling tests or additional appointments.
This makes perfect sense to me now that I am aware of someone doing it. A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend from DePaul University in Chicago's computer department about online social networking, a pet area of study for both of us. He commented that the younger generation seems to have moved past email and have adopted text messages as their preferred communications mode. If that trend carries over, this could be a program with huge potential.

In the meantime, it has already had verifiable results according to the release:
In the 2006 pilot project with diabetes patients, DPCI found that after six months the percentage of patients receiving a necessary test rose from 52.3 percent to 70.5 percent in members receiving text messages. Furthermore, the results were much higher than the 45.4 percent rate for members of a control group of diabetes patients who did not receive text messages.
A nearly twenty percent increase is nothing to sneeze at. We are a culture that loves immediacy, and using text messages for health maintenance seems apropos. If nothing else, it is an attempt at thinking creatively as we seek solutions to the state of our health care system. Even if it proves not to be viable in the longterm, this still bodes well as a signal that people are actively seeking innovative solutions.

All I have to say is, "Go, Delaware!"

SOURCE: "Text Messaging—a New Way for Delaware Physicians Care to Help Its Members" 07/30/08
photo courtesy of Nesster, used under its Creative Commons license

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