Texts help patients remember to take medication, study shows

The number of patients who forget to take their prescribed medication can be reduced by sending text message reminders, a new INTERACT study has shown.

Currently, around a third of patients do not take their medication as instructed by their GP. Furthermore, the NHS spends more than £500 million on preventable illnesses and wasted medication. In a bid to reduce these numbers, a study was conducted to determine how helpful SMS reminders could be.

Three hundred patients on blood pressure medicines or statins took part in the study. One group was sent one text a day for two weeks, which was then reduced to one text every other day for another two weeks. Finally, this fell to a weekly message for six months. The other group was sent no messages at all, reports bbc.co.uk.

A quarter of the people that didn’t receive texts either took less than 80 per cent of what they were supposed to, or stopped taking their medication altogether. However, just nine per cent of patients did the same in the group that were sent the texts, reports techtimes.com.

Professor David Wald, a consultant cardiologist from the Queen Mary University of London and the study’s lead author, said patients often stop taking their medication for a number of reasons. Some are worried about the potential side effects, and others are unsure they need to keep treating themselves.

“An important and overlooked problem in medicine is the failure to take prescribed medication,” he explained. “The results of this trial show that text message reminders help prevent this in a simple and effective way. More than just a reminder, the texts provided the link to identify patients who needed help.”