Help Patients Stay Healthy with SMS Reminders to Take Their Prescriptions
Last year, over 1 billion prescription items were dispensed in England. According to the Nuffield Trust there were, on average, 19 prescription items per person in England. And an article on NHS said that almost half the population is taking prescription medications.
However you look at those statistics, it’s clear a lot of people are taking a lot of medications. It isn’t too hard to imagine then, that some of those people may be taking several prescriptions. It’s probably easy to forget, or confuse, the timing on medications when you are taking so many. Even for people with only one prescription it is possible to forget about it.
SMS reminders are a great way to help patients stay on track and take medications when they need them. For example, I have asthma. The medication I take keeps it under control. It works so well that when I run out of the medication it takes 4-5 days before I start to have difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for me to forget to call in or pick up my refill. It isn’t until I start to feel the symptoms again that I remember to get to the pharmacy. That can be dangerous, particularly if someone has a condition worse than my asthma (which while troublesome, has never been life threatening).
NHS’ report from December 2014 highlights this fact saying the most widely prescribed drugs were cholesterol-lowering statins. While missing one pill won’t likely cause issues, if a patient isn’t consistent taking their medications life threatening problems can arise. Patients taking antidepressants can also be at high risk if they don’t take their medication regularly or suddenly stop taking it. There are many other medications that would have the same problem.
How SMS can help
Over 93% of the UK population has mobile phones. All of those phones are capable of sending and receiving text messages. Doctors and pharmacists can use SMS messaging to help patients in the following ways:
- Repeat prescription reminders – for people like me that can’t seem to call in their refills before they need them, pharmacies can send a quick SMS message with a reminder that it’s time for a repeat. This will help minimise the amount of time someone may go without their medications (hopefully it will eliminate any missed time). It could be possible to actually request a repeat prescription by replying to that text message too, depending on how the service is set up. If getting a repeat is as simple as sending a text message it’s likely more people will do it in time.
- Guidance on scheduling medications – people who need more than one medication, or have one that needs very specific scheduling, could benefit from SMS reminders. The messages could provide reminders or guides to ensure the medications are taken properly. Many medicines work better when they are taken at certain times or intervals (antibiotics for example) so this type of communication could help people get healthier and stay healthier.
- Encouragement to keep taking medications – many medications have side effects. Some of those may be outright unpleasant. But if the medications are stopped there may be worse side effects or they may not work as intended. When a doctor knows that a particular treatment may be difficult to complete, they can sign the patient up for a series of SMS messages that encourage them to continue by reminding them of the benefits they will see if they do. And also warn them of any dangers of stopping the medication without notifying the doctor.
Managing health can be challenging. SMS messaging can be used to help people stay on track and live healthier lives. All it takes is a simple message to break through distractions so people can focus on what they need to do with their medications.
People have their mobiles within arm’s reach about 22 hours of every day. That means even while they are sleeping! It makes sense then, that if you want to remind someone of an important event (an appointment with your small business for example) you should use their mobile.
There are many benefits of using SMS marketing for businesses within the health and beauty industry. From instantly connecting with customers to booking appointments and increasing sales, the opportunities for the health and beauty sector are huge when it comes to business text messaging. Due to the fast-paced nature of appointment booking within the industry, and the increasing competition, SMS marketing could be the key to separate you from your competition.
With 64% of people stating they prefer text messaging for customer support, over voice calling – it is no wonder the hectic, often overstretched health care sector is utilising SMS messaging frequently. Below we’ve listed out a range of benefits of using text messaging within the healthcare sector.
When people talk about SMS marketing they usually refer to the one-way message with coupon codes for a sale. Or potentially a two-way message requiring the customer to respond with a keyword in order to get a deal. And that is customer communication for sure. It’s also marketing. But it’s just the very basics of what SMS messaging can do for your business.
Before the winter cold and flu season hits I decided to do what I can to get healthy and stay healthy. Last week I began a 21 day cleanse that involves eating lots of fruits and vegetables as well as taking supplements. A lot of supplements. So many that I really have trouble keeping track. But luckily the company that makes the cleanse I'm using offers support via SMS reminders.
In a report released last week by Nielsen, it turns out people want more than just to see a lower number on the scale. In their study, 75% of people worldwide plan to lose weight by changing their diet. And another 72% plan to exercise – that’s where your health club and SMS comes in.
False Hope Syndrome happens to nearly 90 % of the people who make New Year’s resolutions. People set grand, hopeful, but unreasonable goals for themselves. But if you can get yourself to focus on something specific you want to improve, SMS messaging can help you achieve it.
There is something of a revolution occurring in the UK, and worldwide, where healthcare is concerned. Gone are the days of patients idly sitting and waiting for doctors to dole out advice. With 93% of the population holding a tool in their hands, anybody can use a mobile phone to access a wealth of information, just at our fingertips. SMS can maintain that feeling of instant information without causing the confusion, panic and misunderstanding so often associated with self-diagnosis.