Texting improves Type 1 diabetes adherence

By Brian Dolan
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DoctorDyerDr. Jennifer Shine Dyer has been in the news quite a bit this week. Dyer, an endocrinologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, also known as @endogodess on Twitter, has penned a column on mHealth over at DiabetesMine, discussed "texts and tweets" in an interview published over at Ragan, discussed mobile health with the UK's Independent, and likely many more.

At the end of July, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio described findings from an ongoing pilot study that uses text messages to keep young diabetics adhering to their medications.

According to the Independent, Dyer found that her weekly, customized text messages to remind adolescent diabetes patients about their personal treatment activities increased overall treatment adherence and improved blood glucose levels.

Over at DiabetesMine, Dyer wrote that she used a text message-based system developed by researchers in UK, the "Sweet Talk" system, which she piloted on three of her own patients. The Ragan report noted that the three patients were 17-year-old high school students and they began testing the program in October 2009.

"I saw A1C levels drop from average 11% to 9% in the first 3 months," Dyer wrote over at DiabetesMine. "My diabetes research team (medical programmer, biotechnology expert, psychologist, statistician) and I have now designed an iPhone app for my own personal phone that delivers an automated yet personalized texting program to provide both support and reminders for teens about their meal boluses which we will be studying in 50 patients pending a recent grant application. However, the solutions to helping those with diabetes are more complex than just simple texting so more exploration of the cell phone frontier is necessary."

Ragan reports: "After three months, she says, the results have been successful. Before, the teens would usually miss taking about half of their boluses each week. Now, she says, teens miss only about three boluses each week."

Here's a video about Dr. Dyer and her SMS pilot: