UnitedHealth Group taps CareSpeak for SMS

By Brian Dolan

CareSpeakCareSpeak Communications announced this morning that it has inked a deal with UnitedHealth Group to bring the health plan's members two-way mobile text messaging services focused on improving adherence to treatment regimens. CareSpeak expects its service to come online over the course of the next year.

The CareSpeak-powered UnitedHealth SMS service will alert caregivers when those under their care are not complying with recommendations, which could help them intervene more rapidly.

Two years ago CareSpeak and Mt. Sinai published results of a SMS-based adherence program they set up for teenage liver transplant patients. The results, which were published by the journal Pediatrics, showed that the number of rejection episodes went down among the patients using CareSpeak's two-way messaging adherence program. For the Mt. Sinai pilot, each patient could customize when she or he would receive their reminders — right before the dose was due, an hour before, etc. Patients could also choose how many reminders they would receive throughout the day. An hour after taking their medication, the teenagers had to text back that they had taken them, if they didn’t, their care giver or parent would get an alert to get on their case.

“If we can save one patient from needing another transplant, we’ve saved a life and at least a half-million dollars. The investment is relatively little and the benefit enormous.” Dr. Tamir Miloh, assistant professor of pediatrics and surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York said at the time.

Here's how CareSpeak describes its offerings in the UnitedHealth Group partnership press release:

"CareSpeak Communications specializes in developing software that facilitates personalized two-way communication via mobile text messaging, which can be customized to address the needs of different disease states. For example, participating UnitedHealthcare medical benefit plan customers can receive text messages that remind them to refill their medication or prescriptions, and escalation alerts can be sent to care givers if compliance is not confirmed. More complex interventions enable patients to report, via text message, their biometric data (blood glucose levels, blood pressure, weight, etc.) and receive educational and motivational messages, incentives and rewards for meeting their health goals, and more."

Check out the press release over at CareSpeak's site here (PDF)