Over time, ongoing improvements in technology have allowed pharmaceutical brands to communicate with patients through a growing number of channels- apps, video chat, and patient portals to name a few.   

Over the years, it has become clear that texting or short message service (SMS) programs also deliver high value content to today’s patients, providing resources to help them manage their health better. These programs can use chatbots to help patients get the support they need, without relying solely on program support staff- and thanks to features like natural language processing, without sacrificing the feeling of personal touch. These configurable text messaging programs can send patients pre-approved, one-on-one support throughout the patient journey.  

For example, SMS may be used to provide patients with links to useful brand resources. Brands, or vendors working on their behalf, may also use SMS to send motivational messages that focus on the importance of filling and taking medications. Overall, SMS is a simple, convenient, and powerful tool that may drive substantial behavioral change.    

Our experience with SMS at CareMetx clearly suggests the many benefits of using this low-cost, effective channel as a communication method. In one case, an SMS-only program at CareMetx showed that patients with neurological issues receiving this particular form of support were 22% more likely to fill a 2nd prescription- and 47% more likely to fill a 3rd.   

Use of SMS Increased Prescription Fills in Patients with Neurological Conditions:  

 At CareMetx, we feel SMS is a powerful and simple tool that stakeholders can use to help manage patient health, and here is why: 

1. SMS is accessible and low cost: many people regularly use a mobile phone.  

Millions of people use mobile devices daily. On average, Americans check their phones 344 times per day (Once every 4 minutes). SMS is a great example of direct and real-time exchange, while other communication methods may require many steps to implement such as downloading apps, logging in, or using wearables.   

SMS also appeals to difficult-to-reach communities including those that do not connect with traditional health services. Due to the ease of tailoring SMS interventions, programs can be delivered in multiple languages, locations, and cultural versions to ensure relevance and appropriateness for a wide range of populations.   

Using the patient’s own mobile device also limits additional expenditures for hardware and software. Compared to case manager programs, using SMS programs are relatively low cost, implemented easily (in as little as 12 weeks), and complement existing patient services.  

2. More convenient, but secure: SMS allows patients to receive easily digestible, bite-sized content. 

SMS is also a great option because people may learn more effectively when they receive information in small and timely chunks. With a 98% open rate, SMS programs have great potential to impact treatment initiation, adherence, and satisfaction. Furthermore, the simple nature of SMS reduces the need for learning a new interface or patient portal.  

The right adherence partner will ensure that SMS programs are compliant with privacy and security regulations and will use encryption, identity verification, and other safeguards to ensure that the intended recipient views the message, and that any personal or sensitive information is not compromised. 

3. SMS can enhance the patient experience. 

 In studies of patient support programs, the perception of personalized support was believed to be a key driver of program effectiveness. Placing the patient at the center of care removes stress, eliminates confusion and enhances the overall patient experience.

Natural language processing can be used with SMS programs to help address the needs of the specific patient. For example, when asked to set up appointment reminders via text, a patient could reply that their next appointment is ‘October 30’ or ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next Monday,’ and regardless of the natural language they used, the system would recognize and proceed with the process appropriately, without requiring them to use specific language or select from a prompted list.  

Developing an effective digital adherence program requires a tool that is simple, widely available, highly personal, and used frequently. SMS may be the best method of communication that meets those requirements, which is why it should be a front and center option for patients.  

 To learn more about how SMS programs can drive value for your brand, click here.