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 healthcare purchase
Nashville, Tennessee (PRWEB) September 24, 2009
Starting today, consumers can simply tweet healthcare questions such as "what is diabetes" to @askch and it will return a short description and a link to more information. Or tweet "cost of celebrex near 37209" and you get "average price of $163 in 37209" in return.
The engine behind this new Twitter application is Nashville-based consumerism company change:healthcare (http://www.changehealthcare.com)], which uses the web to provide information to the public about healthcare, its costs and ways to save money. Company developers realized that the social media phenomenon could extend consumer information into the exam room, so they developed the first phase of what will be a much larger application that delivers accurate healthcare costs and information to consumers' fingertips within 60 seconds, helping them be more informed and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Hey, when cutting the cost of healthcare, who needs Washington, anyway?
"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 healthcare 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 their healthcare. We already have the next iteration in beta that significantly broadens the information for consumers," Parks said.
To work effectively, users first need to "follow" @askch from their Twitter account. Then, it's simply a matter of asking questions via direct message (to keep responses confidential).
For the beta launch, change:healthcare identified the five most consistently asked questions at their website. As users provide more feedback about the service and their information needs via the @askch page, the types of information and questions will be expanded.
The search is most effective using a pre-defined format: What is (health issue); What is (drug name); Cost of (drug name) near (zipcode); Generic for (drug name); and Generic discounts for (drug name) near (zipcode). Messages should be asked as listed and without punctuation.
For those that need it, the company has developed a simple tutorial at http://ask.changehealthcare.com/.
A technology firm focused on helping people save money and make informed healthcare consumer decisions, change:healthcare provides its users access to information about medical provider quality, cost, access and performance. There's even an alert function that proactively notifies users when there's a cost savings opportunity.
The company's core business is providing employers and employees relevant and easy-to-use information about where in their area they can get the most cost-effective treatment, services and prescriptions.
"There's a lot of misinformation about healthcare and costs running around out there." Parks continued. "So when it comes to your health, it's nice to know that there's a professional source you can turn to 24-7 for a quick answer. Twitter just helps us compress the delivery time to consumers for that information. And all folks need to do is follow us on Twitter @askch."
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