For people who engage in ongoing risk behaviors, knowing your status means testing regularly. And for people living with HIV, keeping the virus under control means taking medications every day. We all want to be healthy, but remembering and following a health routine can be a challenge. That’s why the Oregon Health Authority partnered with YTH (youth+tech+health) and HipCricket to develop Oregon Reminders .
Oregon Reminders offers text, email, and voice reminders to take medications daily, to refill prescriptions monthly, and to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) every three to six months. The service was launched in January 2013. As of April 2014, more than 1,200 people have signed up. Oregon Reminders is available to anyone who visits www.OregonReminders.org , including those in other states.
Oregon Reminders gives users options to select which types of messages they want to receive, how they receive them (text, email, or voice), and how frequently they receive them. Users can even write their own messages. For example, a medication reminder could be customized to say “Take your vitamins” or “Do your thing.”
Research has found that people may be more motivated to change behavior when they can clearly recognize their freedom to choose. A study conducted among Australian men who have sex with men (MSM) found that those who received text reminders for HIV/STI testing were twice as likely to get tested again within nine months of their initial test compared with those who did not receive reminders. Studies in the US and in Kenya found improved adherence among people living with HIV receiving medication reminders via text.
Early surveys of Oregon Reminders users suggest that the service is effective and is reaching high-risk populations for which knowledge of HIV status and viral suppression may be particularly important. We hope that we will continue to see positive results.
Lessons learned from our experience implementing Oregon Reminders include:
- Text and email are desirable methods of health communication. Most users selected text (64%) or email (30%) reminders. Relatively few (6%) users selected voice reminders.
- Have a mobile friendly website. Of the 98,000 visits to www.OregonReminders.org , 90% were from a mobile device.
- Monitor online marketing efforts. We placed advertisements on various mobile applications and websites serving our target audience (e.g., adult social and dating sites). Our marketing data indicated one site had the greatest yield (clicks on advertisements, which direct users to our website). As a result, this adult dating/social site became the focus of our campaign. We are continuing to explore and monitor marketing in other online venues as well.
- Get partners on board. Oregon’s HIV test counselors, case managers, and other local staff members have played a tremendous role encouraging clients to sign up.
Do you know someone who could benefit from regular testing or medication reminders? If so, we hope you will share information about Oregon Reminders with them.
We’d love to hear from you. Please share your comments and questions below!