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Blue Cross Blue Shield Members Can Receive 24-Hour Access To Health Care Information

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CARY — A new service offered byBlue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolinaallows insured members to have their health care questions answered online or by phone by real nurses at any time of the day or night.

Maryann Hiscock and her husband are insured through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. They used a new service calledHealthline Blueafter their daughter, Carleigh, had five ear infections in her six months of life.

Insured members are assigned a licensed and registered North Carolina nurse as a health coach.

"She's provided me with information or options, pros and cons, for each option as well as the next step if we decide to go with tubes," Hiscock says.

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers the free service as part of its "shared decision-making" process. The company says the program in no way interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

"We feel that this service enhances that relationship so that more of a bedside approach to medical care can occur," says Dr. Bob Harris, Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Medical Officer.

Hiscock has confidence in her health coach and says the service is unbiased.

"She's also given me other Web sites to view information about children or infants going through surgical procedures," Hiscock says.

Healthline Blue allows members to get information they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone or on the Internet. The service also allows users to search through 28,000 pages of scientifically-based medical information.

"We want to make sure that our members are able to access good, scientific, proven information as they make their health care decisions," Harris says.

Healthline Blue is already generating lots of Web traffic in its first week of operation. Blue Cross Blue Shield members retain the same nurse, or health coach, throughout their treatment period.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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