Preventing Skin Cancer ... Through Texting?
A recent study conducted by Harvard University Medical School reveals that daily sunscreen mobile device messaging reminders promote healthy skin
New Haven, CT - June 5, 2009 - Over the last few decades, dermatologists have struggled to integrate wearing sunscreen into patients' normal routines despite the fact that over one million Americans are diagnosed with potentially deadly skin cancer each year. The most common reason that sunscreen application is ignored? Simple forgetfulness.
In a recent study, however, a professor of dermatology at Harvard University Medical School, Joseph C. Kvedar, explored a possible solution to this problem by using daily mobile text messaging to combat sunscreen forgetfulness and perhaps prevent cancer. Kvedar, who presented his findings at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that text message reminders increase patient adherence by just over 25 percent.
"The results of this study were dramatic, and we are encouraged by the positive feedback we received from subjects who received the reminders and applied sunscreen as a result," said Dr. Kvedar. "The implications of this study extend well beyond sunscreen use to any situation where a reminder to adhere to a care plan would be useful to patients - such as taking once-a-day medications or dressing changes for post-surgery patients."
During the randomized and controlled study that took place last fall, 70 participants of all ages were asked to apply sunscreen each morning for six weeks. Half of the patients were given text message reminders and weather reports each morning while half received nothing. All subjects were given tubs of sun block fitted with special monitoring devices. Those without reminders recorded a mean daily adherence rate of 30 percent, while the subjects who had the advantage of text reminders had an adherence rate of 56 percent.
"All too often people assume that medical adherence is an issue only for those with chronic conditions requiring on-going medication management," said Kevin Aniskovich, Chief Executive of the healthcare information technology company Intelecare, which specializes in personal medical reminders for healthy living. "Kvedar's study on sunscreen is a prime example of how we can successfully harness existing technology to change behavior in the simplest of ways, but with tremendous impact, such as the prevention of skin cancer."
The study also found that almost 70 percent of participants would opt to continue the reminder service after the study ended and almost 90 percent of participants would recommend the service to others.
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Established in 2005, Intelecare Compliance Solutions is a privately owned healthcare information technology company that provides an array of practical tools and services promoting medical adherence. With 84 percent of patients reporting forgetfulness as the major cause of non-compliance, and with the healthcare system suffering over $300 billion in costs annually due to non-compliance, Intelecare's solutions enable patients and caregivers alike to keep track of medications, doses, and doctor's appointments through the phone, mobile devices, and email - all while keeping simplicity, practicality, and innovation at the heart of its developments.
Aside from individual end-user services, Intelecare provides and manages a suite of scalable services for insurers, employers, retail pharmacies, non-profit organizations and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Currently supporting millions of subscribers, Intelecare is dedicated to finding functional solutions to the widespread issue of medical non-compliance for individuals around the world that work the way people live.
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