The power of Twitter

Online social networking service provided fuel for fired up O&P stakeholders
Friday, September 11, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – The groundswell of support to rescind proposed changes to coverage for lower limb prostheses coalesced into one cohesive rallying cry on Twitter in late August: Prosthetics are #notaluxury.

“It’s nice when you can boil that message down,” said Elizabeth Mansfield, president of Outsource Marketing Solutions.

In August, O&P stakeholders fought the changes through a number of measures: commenting at a public hearing, staging a protest and participating in a high-stakes meeting with CMS, all in one day.

Even as stakeholders began parsing the new language and what the proposed changes would mean, not just for Medicare beneficiaries but, ultimately, everyone affected by limb loss, not everybody was on the same page.

“In the beginning, everybody had different messages because they weren’t really clear on the total effect the policy would have,” said Mansfield. “Once people started putting pictures to words and using hashtags, it really allowed people to want to learn more about it themselves.” 

While industry associations regularly tweeted updates about what they were doing and encouraging their followers to get involved, it was the messages from amputees that resonated most.

“Grocery shopping is not a luxury…neither are prosthetics,” tweeted one.

“First time running in 30 years,” tweeted another.

By Aug. 26, the day of a public comment period and rally, Twitter was flooded with tweets, most featuring photos of attendees and proclaiming themselves ready to fight.

“The people are here in DC, and they will be heard! Prosthetics are #notaluxury,” read one.

“This picture says it all @CMSGov #notaluxury,” read another featuring a photo of two amputees, one a young girl wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the aforementioned hashtag.