A recent study by the University of Chicago found SMS messaging services beneficial to those dealing with diabetes. The study took place between May 2012 and February 2013, and featured 74 adult diabetics using a mobile phone-based program called CareSmarts. Participants’ glucose levels decreased from 7.9 to 7.2% throughout the course of the study. These results are an example of many positive implications concerning SMS messaging and the healthcare community, with mobile marketing campaigns potentially targeting those with disabilities, chronic diseases and other health issues.
The program provided educational materials and text message alerts regarding assorted diabetes self-management activities, including medication refill reminders and self-assessments. While participants had to pay for text messages, they received $25 compensation. The study included 274 patients with diabetes who were not enrolled in the program; 67 participants completed the program.
In addition to a decrease in participant glucose levels, the study found participant healthcare costs declined by about $375 per patient, and the number of outpatient visits decreased as well. Participants also reported improvements in glycemic control and increased satisfaction with their overall health care. As for the 274 diabetic patients who did not participate in the program, no changes in clinical outcomes or health care costs were reported.
So what do these findings mean for mobile marketing tactics and campaigns? mHealth, or “mobile health” continues to gain momentum, with current “hot areas” including wireless-enabled health trackers, wireless monitoring of vital signs, and location-aware telemonitoring systems. Doctors also love SMS messaging, with about 9 in 10 physicians under age 35 owning smartphones, according to Kantar Media research. They reportedly use their phones to text other MDs, including consulting physicians, hospitalists and subspecialists. SMS messaging is edging out “cumbersome” papers and filing systems in favor of texting, as texting is much faster and contributes to quicker decisions and increased productivity.
While security issues still loom in terms of patient data, SMS messaging among physicians is very popular and practical, and healthcare organizations will no doubt look for secure texting solutions. Mobile marketing campaigns targeting healthcare professionals as well as patients continue to crop up, such as SMS messaging programs for overweight individuals. The elderly community is also a prime target for healthcare-related mobile marketing campaigns, including those that send appointment reminders or alerts concerning pill schedules.
Mobile health is quickly becoming one of the biggest stories in the healthcare industry this year. Experts such as Jon Jansen, CTO of Doc Halo, predict “lower medical costs, more effective management of chronic diseases and more innovative research” as mobile health continues to increase in popularity.