Innovation That Matters

Quick healthcare questions answered via Twitter

Work & Lifestyle

If Twitter can be used to track packages, publish school menus and crowdfund startups, why not help tackle the US healthcare crisis too? Cell phones are already changing the way healthcare is delivered in the developing world, after all, and now Twitter promises to transform the delivery of healthcare information for stateside consumers. ASKch is a new service from Nashville-based healthcare information provider Change:Healthcare that allows users to send quick healthcare questions via Twitter and have them answered within 60 seconds. Consumers can simply tweet a question such as, “what is diabetes” to @askch, which is now in beta; in return, they get a short description of the disease and a link to more information. Those seeking prescription pricing information in a particular ZIP code area, on the other hand, can tweet “cost of celebrex near 37209,” prompting the service to tweet back, “average price of $163 in 37209″ in return. Questions must be formatted according to predefined types, which currently include: 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). Over time, however, Change:Healthcare plans to expand those possibilities. The new application is just the first phase of what will ultimately be a much larger service from Change:Healthcare that aims to help consumers “be more informed and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars,” the company says. Where else could Twitter be used to answer consumers’ standard questions quickly and in real time…? (Related: In-home STD tests with results by text message.) Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann



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