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Further evidence has emerged showing the benefits of healthcare text messaging. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association clearly showed that an automated mHealth intervention using text messages and Smartphone tracking apps can prove to be an effective strategy for increasing patients’ physical activity levels.
The benefits of increasing activity levels, in particular for sufferers of cardiovascular disease, cannot be underestimated. However, under 50% of adults are failing to reach the recommended daily exercise targets, in spite of many initiatives to get the nation more active. In fact, activity levels have not increased substantially since they were assessed as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted between 1988 and 1994.
According to the American Heart Association, there is a critical need for research into new, effective strategies that can be used to promote increasing daily activity levels. With this in mind, Seth S. Martin, MD, MHS et al, conducted a study at an ambulatory cardiology center in Baltimore to determine whether the use of activity trackers and text message reminders could be used to improving exercise and fitness levels of cardiology patients.
Healthcare Text Messaging Can Help Cardiology Patients Increase Activity Levels
The study showed that with motivational and informative text message reminders, on average patients walked an additional 2,500 steps each day compared to individuals who did not receive text messages. 2,500 steps correspond to a quarter of the recommended number of steps adults should be making each day.
The five-week study established baseline activity levels during week 1, after which cardiology patients taking part in the study were split into two separate groups. For the following two weeks, half of participants were provided with access to their activity data via Smartphones. The other half was prevented from accessing exercise data. The last two weeks of the study focused on the group that was able to view activity data. That group was split in two and half of the participants were sent text message reminders three times a day giving them updates on their activity levels, along with motivational messages to try to get them to meet their daily 10,000-step target.
44% of individuals within the groups that did not have access to their daily activity data, or had limited access, managed to meet or exceed their 10,000-step daily target. 81% of individuals within the group that received motivational text messages and updates on their progress throughout the day succeeded in meeting their daily 10,000-step target.
Healthcare Text Messaging: More than an Appointment Reminder Service
Many healthcare providers have adopted text messages for sending appointment reminders to patients, but far greater benefits can be gained from communicating with patents via SMS texts. The latest study adds to the growing body of evidence showing the effectiveness of text messages at improving patient outcomes. Secure healthcare text messaging systems are not necessary, provided no PHI is transmitted. However, the benefits of also implementing secure text message platform are considerable.
Last year, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that insulin management could be improved by communicating with patients using a secure texting solution, while the TigerText secure messaging platform, implemented by the Chicago Cardiology Institute, resulted in improved response times and saved many physician-hours that were being lost due to inefficient communication channels.