No, I am not kidding. And neither are the folks at change:healthcare, a Nashville-based company that is leveraging the Internet to increase consumer awareness about health care, its costs and ways to save money.
The company recently launched its Twitter feed/consumer information line at twitter.com/askch, where consumer in the twitterverse can simply tweet health care questions like, “What is diabetes?” or “Cost of Celebrex near [ZIP code] 37209” to @askch and receive a reply with a short answer and a link to more information.
“It’s not everything you need to know, but it gets you to a well-informed starting point when you want to make a smart health care purchase,” says Christopher Parks, co-founder and CEO of change:healthcare. “If you’re looking for information about the cost of a prescription your physician is prescribing, then we’ve got an answer. If you want to know more about the flu virus, we get you started on finding out more. It’s the first time ever that consumers can use an existing social media application to quickly discover — wherever they are — how they can save money on health care.”
Twitter users only need to “follow” @askch from their Twitter account, then ask their questions via direct message (to keep responses confidential). When questions are received, users receive automated responses that are based on information from both the change:healthcare database — that housed info based on markets where the company has clients — Medicare data and MedlinePlus, a federal database created by the U.S. Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
I understand you may be a little dubious, but I say it’s worth a shot. As change:healthcare points out, “Now, health care answers come in 140 characters or less — which is a far cry from the nearly 2,000-page health reform bill Congress has been proposing.”
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