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Text Messaging Helps to Manage Diabetes

Mar 8, 2012

New published research assessed the feasibility of engaging adults with diabetes in self-management behaviors between clinic visits by using cell phone text messaging to provide blood sugar measurement prompts and appointment reminders….

Henry H. Fischer, MD, and colleagues from the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora conducted the quasi-experimental pilot among adult diabetic patients with cell phones who receive regular care at a federally-qualified community health center in Denver, which serves a population that is predominantly either uninsured (41 percent) or on Medicaid or Medicare (56 percent).

Patients received text message prompts over a three-month period. Blood sugar readings were requested three times per week and reminders were sent seven, three, and one day(s) before each scheduled appointment. Acknowledgments were returned for all patient-sent messages. Focus groups were conducted in English and Spanish with selected patients.

Seventy-nine percent of the cohort responded to more than half of their prompts. The appointment analysis was underpowered to detect significant changes in attendance. Participants reported increased social support, feelings that the program “made them accountable” and increased awareness of health information. Sixty-six percent of patients provided glucose readings when prompted during the study, compared with 12 percent at two preceding clinic visits.

The authors concluded that for certain patients, cell phone-based text messaging may enhance chronic disease management support and patient-provider communications beyond the clinic setting.

American Journal of Managed Care, Feb. 2012