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CONSUMER MEDICAL INFORMATION TELEPHONE SERVICE EXPANDS NATIONWIDE FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL METRO DETROIT 12-WEEK PILOT RUN

   CONSUMER MEDICAL INFORMATION TELEPHONE SERVICE EXPANDS NATIONWIDE
          FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL METRO DETROIT 12-WEEK PILOT RUN
    SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A round-the-clock consumer medical information telephone call-in service has expanded its program nationwide after a 12-week trial run in the Metro Detroit area.
    MEDTALK, utilizing AT&T's MultiQuest(R) Express900 Service, provides the general public with an opportunity to speak directly with experienced medical doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    The 12-week trial run, promoted only in local Detroit television advertising, resulted in hundreds of calls each week, said co-founders Chet Sarzynski and Michael Kromirs.  A significant number of the callers, they said, phoned a second time with new questions.
    By dialing 1-900-97 MEDTALK, callers speak with doctors who are on duty at the company's Southfield headquarters.  The doctors -- whose only responsibilities are to answer questions and provide information -- answer the phone themselves and explain up front that there is a $3.95 per minute phone charge for the service.  Calls normally range from four to six minutes in length; average charge is $20.
    MEDTALK has more than 200 medical doctors, Sarzynski said.  Average length of physician experience exceeds 10 years, he said, and covers most medical specialties.
    MEDTALK is designed to ease the emotional stress associated with an illness, aid Sarzynski.  "There's nothing more important to a person's long-term health care than a strong understanding of the illness.  But in a world where family doctors and specialists are increasingly busy and hard to reach, our mission is to hear the caller's questions and provide prompt and accurate answers to health-related questions," he said.
    That mission, he added, is also extended to provide medical information services for approximately 55 million in the U.S. who have little or no health care insurance and to the 75 percent of Americans who don't have a family physician.
    Sarzynski and Kromirs said their business effort was given a shot in the arm on Sept. 30 when the American Medical Association issued a statement that said telephone services can be a "helpful source of medical information" and a "useful complement to more comprehensive services if used properly."
    "It underlines the simple, basic reason for MEDTALK's existence," Kromirs said.  "We don't replace a physician's personal touch; we're not a substitute for face-to-face interaction between a patient and doctor. We don't write prescriptions.  And we're not an emergency service.
    "But we do provide preventive medical information, coaching and encouragement, and general knowledge.  We connect our callers with the health information they want and need."
    Kromirs said that, rather than keep a caller waiting, MEDTALK doctors who don't have a prompt answer to a question provide a free-of-charge call-back service.  "Our doctors quickly research the answer and phone the patient back," Kromirs said.  "MEDTALK incurs the cost."
    Often after a telephone caller is counseled, Kromirs said, the caller is encouraged to seek treatment by a hometown family doctor or medical specialist.  If the caller doesn't have a relationship with a physician, MEDTALK's doctors provide the caller with the phone number of the nearest medical society or referral service of local hospitals.
    "In many cases, a reluctant patient is convinced that he or she should seek direct care, based on the information and symptoms that they have given to the physician," Kromirs said.
    The MultiQuest Express900 Service is AT&T's switched-access, two-way or "interactive" caller-paid 900 service, which is designed to meet the needs of business customers with innovative, lower-volume, inward calling business-to-business or business-to-customer applications.  It offers callers the ability to obtain information perceived by the caller as being "of value."
    MEDTALK has met or exceeded all of AT&T's very stringent guidelines for 900 service.  Consumers can be assured that they will be aware of the cost to receive medical information and will have the opportunity to leave the call before any charging begins.
    -0-                      11/4/91
    /CONTACT:  Chet Sarzynski or Mike Kromirs of MEDTALK, 313-557-5900; Annette Husted of AT&T, 313-262-4962; or Doug Drummond of National Editorial Services, 313-548-7444, for MEDTALK/
    (T) CO:  AT&T; MEDTALK ST:  Michigan IN:  HEA TLS SU:  PDT ML -- DE003 -- 0606 11/04/91 09:35 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 4, 1991
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