Could surgical infection be reduced by text messages?

Having any kind of surgery can be a scary thought. Not only are patients putting tremendous trust in the hands of medical staff, but also need to ensure they are doing everything possible to prevent a negative outcome.

There are several pre surgery requirements that patients need to do which can include showering, fasting and taking certain medications. However, not everyone remembers to do this, which increases the possibility of infection and other complications. That is why the Medical College of Wisconsin tested a new process where text messages were sent to patients as a reminder to complete certain tasks and the messages prove to be a helpful tool.

The study split 80 volunteers into different groups, half of the volunteers were instructed to shower three times with a chemical called CHG, while the other half were instructed to shower twice with the same chemical. The groups were then cut in half again as 50 percent were sent text message reminders and 50 percent were not.

When the subjects returned, their skin was analyzed by researchers for levels of the chemical. It was discovered that the volunteers that did not receive the text messages had 66 percent lower concentrations of CHG on average.

Dr. Charles Edmiston, a professor of surgery at Medical College of Wisconsin and a hospital epidemiologist, was the author of the study. He said that in general, getting patients to comply with preadmission cleansing strategies is a challenge throughout the entire sector. They want to be compliant but forget all of the pre admission requirements. This is where new technology can open the door for a new solution that improves patient care by making them a partner in the process.

"I think a study like this provides us with a tremendous opportunity to empower patients because it clearly makes them an intimate partner in the whole health care experience," Edmiston said. "It's reminding them that they are not a passive player but rather an active participant in an important risk-reduction strategy that if successfully completed can contribute to an improved clinical outcome."

More companies are looking for ways to improve their communication with customers. In the health care field, this means finding better ways to get patients involved with their care. With mobile devices in the pockets of nearly every person, this can be the best way to engage with individuals and make sure they are doing everything possible to have good health.