SAN FRANCISCO, June 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Building on an ongoing effort to engage its members about health, Blue Shield of California announced the launch of Member Stories, an online forum that lets members share personal stories that will hopefully inspire others to take control of their own health challenges.
Blue Shield members can submit text, photos and video to show how they are managing their health. Members can also read others' stories, post comments, tag stories as "inspiring," and share stories via Facebook. From now until July 31, Blue Shield will donate $5 for every story that's shared on Member Stories. When members share their stories, they can choose to benefit one of three charities: California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, The Children's Partnership, and California Primary Care Association.
"Tackling personal health issues can often be a solitary experience. Through Member Stories, our members are publicly sharing stories in a rich, deeply moving way that empowers other members who face similar challenges," said Sue DeLeeuw, director for brand marketing, Blue Shield of California. "This is our way of harnessing the wisdom and bravery of our member community for better health."
Member Stories is Blue Shield's latest online initiative aimed at empowering members to share knowledge and experiences around health.
- Ratings and Reviews, a first-of-its-kind feature in the healthcare industry, lets members give candid, public feedback about their experiences with Blue Shield health plans. It has collected nearly 2,000 member reviews, averaging 4.0 out of 5 stars.
- Ask & Answer, which enables members to ask questions and share knowledge about health topics, has generated more than 1,500 questions and answers from members and Blue Shield customer representatives and healthcare professionals.
Examples of inspiring member stories
Dozens of Blue Shield members have already shared stories about their challenges and triumphs with health issues ranging from stress and sleeplessness to cancer and high cholesterol. Dorothy Judy and Jo D'Anna are two examples.
- Dorothy and Scott Judy of Newhall, Calif., had been fighting the battle of the bulge for years, but the couple recently took control of their weight and has lost a combined 77 pounds since last January. Initially hesitant to be "out there" with their experience, Dorothy, 56, and Scott, 60, shared their weight loss success online for the first time with Blue Shield's Member Stories, and they're proud they did it. Their story shows the power that a support system – in this case, a spouse – can have in overcoming health challenges.
"Having his support made a huge difference in my success. Eating right, exercising 4 or more days a week has changed my outlook on life and the way I look and feel. Taking control of this aspect of my life has made a big contribution to my health and well being."
Dorothy thinks that seeing other people willing to talk about their health struggles and/or successes through Member Stories can make the journey to better health less lonely.
- Jo D'Anna of Forest Knolls, Calif. had heard horror stories from friends about colonoscopies and put off getting her own for more than 10 years. The lack of reliable transportation from friends and family only made it easier for the singer-songwriter to continue postponing it, but her family history of colon disease finally compelled her to get it done. Last May, just after turning 61, Jo got her first colonoscopy, calling it "a piece of cake, and actually fun." She has provided a detailed account of it on Facebook and Blue Shield's Member Stories. Her story shows that colonoscopies are not as embarrassing, uncomfortable or invasive as most people think.
"The procedure itself was a piece of cake, and actually fun. The nurses were delightful and funny, and made you feel completely at ease, like it was no big deal. They keep you comfy and warm. They talk about funny things. Then, suddenly you're wheeled into the procedure room and before you know it, you're totally unconscious. I woke up in the sunlit recovery room, having felt no time pass, and absolutely no pain."
Jo hopes the story of her colonoscopy will encourage those considering it not to procrastinate.
The full version of these and other stories are available at www.blueshieldca.com/memberstories.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members, 4,800 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in California. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California offers a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. The company has contributed more than $125 million over the past four years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation — which was named one of BusinessWeek's 20 most generous corporate foundations. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield website at www.blueshieldca.com.
CONTACT: Johnny Wong
SOURCE Blue Shield of California