Benefits of Texting Patients Include Improved Risk Profiles

Something as simple as sending a text message to a patient can have a profound impact on that individual’s health, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There are many benefits of texting patients according to the new study.

Study Highlights the Health Benefits of Texting Patients

Increasing the level of exercise taken, stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol consumption and making improvements to diet can all have a dramatic impact on patient health; the problem is that it is very easy to explain this to patients in a consultation, but getting them to take action and do all of the above is another matter entirely.

A recent study has shown that getting patients to make those important lifestyle improvements is a lot easier if contact with them is maintained using a mobile phone. Sending text messages to patients really does have an impact on their health it would appear. In fact, there are many benefits of texting patients.

In a recent study – Effect of Lifestyle-Focused Text Messaging on Risk Factor Modification in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease – published in JAMA, researchers in Sydney, Australia, set out to determine whether a simple measure such as sending text reminders to patients could help them adopt a healthier lifestyle (rather than just agree to do so in a consultation.)

The study involved using a lifestyle-focused semipersonalized support program, referred to by the researchers as “TEXT ME”. The program involved sending patients text messages relating to diet, exercise and smoking cessation.

The randomized clinical trial involved 710 patients with a mean age of 58; comprising 82% men/18% women. 53% of both the trial and control group were current smokers at the start of the trial, all of whom had proven coronary heart disease.

350 of those individuals were sent four text messages a week reminding them about changes they needed to make to stay healthy, such as text message tips to help them reduce the risk of a coronary heart attack or stroke. The remaining group of 360 individuals received a standard level of care, but were not sent SMS reminders or lifestyle tips. The study continued for a period of 6 months.

According to the results of the study, patients suffering from coronary heart disease showed modest improvements in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels after 6 months, and had greater success in reducing body weight, blood pressure, and tobacco usage than those in the control group who received no text message reminders. At the start of the study, 53% of participants in both groups were smokers. By the end of the study, the percentage of individuals who smoked fell to 26% in the test group, while 46% of the control group remained as smokers.

It is not clear whether the study resulted in improved clinical outcomes, neither was the duration of the positive effects determined, but the study did show that it is possible to help patients adopt a healthier lifestyle with mobile health interventions.

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of