Aetna launches texting program for diabetes patients

By Healthcare IT News
09:53 AM

As it seeks to help members who have been diagnosed with diabetes better control their condition and avoid complications, Aetna has launched a program through which members will receive educational text messages, reminding them about screenings and tests, and offering tips on healthy eating and exercising.

“Managing a chronic condition like diabetes has to fit in and keep pace with today’s increasingly busy lifestyles,” said Kyra Bobinet, MD, medical director of health and wellness innovation for Aetna.

“Statistics show that two-thirds of Americans use text messaging on a daily basis," she adds. "Texting reaches people in ways that are even more convenient and easy for them. Tools and information that can help members make better informed decisions about their health care will be delivered to their fingertips anywhere they go.”

[See also: Aetna encourages health through online gaming.]
The diabetes texting program is available initially to a limited number of members who have Aetna medical, pharmacy and disease management benefits. Members who sign up will receive short text-based messages on their mobile devices over a three-month period.

Members will be evaluated on how well they follow four best-practice measures of diabetes management:

  • Receive regular A1C screenings which measures blood glucose levels
  • Receive an annual LDL screening which shows the level of bad cholesterol and cardiovascular risk
  • Follow instructions for taking medications
  • Enroll in a disease management, nurse and health coaching program

Aetna, which has a variety of programs in place to help people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, launched the diabetes texting program in partnership with Burlington, Mass.-based Silverlink Communications.

[See also: Diabetic patients report better care with use of Web-based PHRs.]

Aetna’s Medicaid plan in Delaware, Delaware Physicians Care, pioneered the use of health-related texting, and has been using it successfully using it since 2006.