Certified medical assistants or those pursuing degrees that could lead to this sort of career are no doubt concerned with staying abreast of the latest developments in their field. With more and more happening each day to modernize and bring heightened convenience to the way that we experience our healthcare system, it’s an incredibly interesting time to be at the forefront of personal care.
Still, some of the innovations that are being implemented to benefit consumers of health care services in the U.S. can seem somewhat gratuitous or farfetched at time. With that said, you clearly can’t argue with results, and that seems to be the mentality behind a group of medical professionals who are trying to bring medical communication into the 21st century.
According to Medical XPress, text messaging reminders have been shown to make a significant difference in coercing patients to undergo certain sorts of medical procedures.
As you may or may not have heard, sources around the medical community are expecting the flu season of 2014-2015 to be somewhat worse than usual. Regardless of the causation for the heightened flu risk, it’s critical that as many people as possible receive a flu vaccine, and that these individuals do so early. As many of us know, though, it’s not always easy to convince someone to willingly go and get a shot. For some reason, despite the clear health benefits, these practices just fall by the wayside.
A group of researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, however, have reported that the key to convincing folks to vaccinate themselves may be as simple as a text message.1 These individuals monitored the response of families with children ranging from six months to eight years to informative text messages. Each message reminded the family to bring their children back in for the second dose of a two-shot influenza vaccination. On the whole, families who received a text message reminder came in at a higher frequency and earlier than families who only had a written reminder.
Perhaps even more interestingly, it seems that not all text messages are created equal. According to Eureka Alert, these researchers crafted three different sorts of text messages in their study. While one group of families who received only written reminders had the lowest response rate in the study, there was an interesting juxtaposition between the two groups that received text messages.
One contingent of families would get a ‘conventional’ text message, simply reminding them of when and where to return for the second dose of the vaccine. The third group, however, received a more elaborate text message with embedded information on the importance of the vaccine. Approximately 72.7 percent of the children in the informative message group returned for a second dose, as compared with 66.7 percent in the conventional text message contingent and only 57.1 percent in the written reminder group.2
While the results of this study certainly say quite a bit about the power of modern technology to influence health care practices, its reaches extend far beyond the families with children. An earlier article from the same researchers indicated that pregnant women in low-income scenarios were also far more likely to receive a flu vaccination when sent a text message intervention.
Specifically, women who received this text were nearly 30 percent more likely than those who did not to undergo a vaccination.3 While the applications of these studies will take time to hone, using technology and communication to influence voluntary treatment processes could be hugely beneficial to the state of healthcare as a whole.
1) Text Messaging Reminders Increase Second Dose Influenza Vaccinations in Children, Medical Xpress, Staff Writer, 12/29/2014
2) Text Messaging Reminders Increase Second Dose Influenza Vaccinations in Children, EurekAlert, Public Release, 12/29/2014
3) Text Messaging Boosts Flu Vaccine Rates in Pregnant Women, Medical Xpress, Staff Writer, 1/11/14