The Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (in East Brunswick, N.J.) is working with New Jersey-based CareSpeak Communications to bring mHealth (mobile health) to its teenage heart transplant patients and their families. The CareSpeak system uses two-way text messaging to ensure patients take their medications on time and as prescribed, significantly decreasing the likelihood of organ rejection due to medication non-adherence.
Nearly 30,000 organ transplants were performed in the USA in 2009 , and more than 100,000 people are still waiting to receive a life-saving organ transplant. Being lucky enough to receive an organ is only half the battle. Following a transplant, organ recipients have to follow a very strict medication regimen to prevent the body from rejecting the “foreign” organ for the rest of their lives. To prevent organ rejection, patients must take drugs known as immunosuppressants every day, multiple times per day, for as long as they live. Failing to do so can result in hospitalization, the need for a re-transplant, and unfortunately even death.
CareSpeak’s system uses everyday technology and behavior to help solve this significant problem – the cell phone and text messaging. Not only is the system easy to use and accessible anytime, anywhere, but it is also the perfect fit for teenagers who are notorious text messagers. It doesn’t require learning a new system or purchasing and carrying another device.