Following a research that established one-third of patients do not take their prescription medicines as directed by their physicians, a study of 300 patients has been published in PLOS ONE to indicate that most patients take their medications after being reminded by a text message service or some telephone reminder call.

Professor David Wald, a consultant cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London, led a research to show that most patients appreciate being reminded of the need to take their drugs by some reminder service, and a number of deaths have been prevented by this scheme while many others have reduced their risks of suffering aggravated complications as a result of this scheme.

About 300 patients suffering from hypertension were sent daily texts for two weeks and then a fortnight of alternate days, followed by weekly texts for six months – and then no texts at all. About 25% of those that did not receive any text reminders forgot to take their drugs or took only less than 80%, while 9% or 14 out of 150 patients that got reminders actually took their medications. Only three patients failed to take their drugs after being reminded of doing so.

“In general, patients really valued the text messages and were disappointed when they stopped,” says David Taylor, emeritus professor of pharmaceutical and public health policy at University College London, and Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, adds that “It’s crucial that heart patients take prescribed treatments to control their blood pressure and cholesterol as it helps reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Carrying out a larger study over a longer period would help establish the full extent of the benefits of sending this type of reminders to patients.”

Professor Wald also estimates that the NIH expends close to £500 million on avoidable illnesses and wasted or untaken medications; and to this end, he urges GPs, hospital doctors, and pharmacists to use a take-your-pills reminder service for patients suffering from diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV, and heart patients.

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