SMS prompts help patients send glucose readings to MDs

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 1, 2012        

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Text MessagingResearchers from Denver Health and Hospital Authority, a medical school, found that patients with diabetes who received text message reminders and prompts throughout the week reported increased accountability, social support, and awareness of health information. The Researchers found that 79 percent of the participants responded to more than 50 percent of the prompts, according to the study’s results which were recently published in the American Journal of Managed Care. About 66 percent provided glucose readings when their care provided prompted them by text message, compared to the 12 percent that provided readings at two previous clinic visits.

The researchers from the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, which is the the University of Colorado’s Denver School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health, sent SMS prompts to the 47 participating patients in the study during a three month period. Eight of the patients received their text messages in Spanish as part of a focus group. Researchers sent text message requests for blood sugar readings three times per week. They also sent three appointment reminders over the course of the weeks leading up to each medical appointment. About 41 percent of those participating were uninsured, while 56 percent were on either Medicaid or Medicare.

MobiHealthNews first wrote about this study last April when Microsoft published a blog post about its text message diabetes management study with Denver Health and EMC. At the time Microsoft said the Denver Health case managers tracked the patients’ glucose control between visits in an attempt to improve condition management, reduce admission rates and reduce costs.

Here’s how Microsoft’s GM for US Public Sector HHS Jack Hersey described the study at the time:

“Denver Health designed the program with the understanding that many of their patients do not have regular access to computers or smartphones. Their Chronic Condition Management platform (CCM), which is built on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SQL Server 2008, helps doctors and diabetics communicate via text message in between regular office visits. Medical staff establish appropriate reminders in the CCM system, which then automatically sends text message reminders to patients. These reminders prompt patients about their upcoming appointments and remind patients to text in their daily blood glucose readings. This allows Denver Health case managers to track patients’ blood glucose control in between visits. If a patient’s blood glucose levels are too low or too high, clinicians can intervene by directing patients to schedule an office visit to review their health status.”

More details on the study results over at the American Journal of Managed Care.

  • Jared Reitzin

    SMS is still such a great channel

  • Evan Freedman

    The one issue that will always plague self-reporting is the tendency for people to provide idealized responses in order to protect their ego; they want to appear to their care providers as successful managers of their disease, but just as much, they want to reassure their own self-esteem. Just think of how you respond when your dentist asks how frequently you floss.

    Granted, people are most likely fudging their numbers ever so slightly downwards or upwards, but regardless of the size of the margin, any system which operates on an acknowledged level of inaccuracy is not a viable solution.

    I am pleased to see that this study was conducted over a period of at least several months, as I have found SMS and other “prompt” or “reminder” solutions to be less sustainable. It does not take long for those text messages to become an annoying disruption and the data entry becoming a nuisance you’d rather avoid.

  • Evan Freedman

    Aha! I just remembered the name of the term for respondents masking their true behavior/beliefs in order to not lose face: the Deference Effect. Sounds like an action/thriller movie title…