Alert Solutions Blog

Electronic Patient Communication Improves Quality of Medical Care – 3 Reasons How

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Mar 05, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

In the past, a patient’s visit to the office may have been the only time the healthcare provider communicated with them. Things are much different today.

With Meaningful Use empowering patients to take more responsibility for their own health, the amount of patient communication between office visits has changed indefinitely.

From email to voice to SMS text messaging, healthcare providers are engaging patients, providing follow ups and relaying lab results using electronic communication.

Does your medical practice need a communication boost? Consider the following:patientwaitingroom

#1) Meet Patient Demand
The need for electronic patient communication in healthcare is right under our noses. Patients are demanding more timely communication from their healthcare providers. With cell phones nearby at all times, voice and SMS text messaging are especially popular ways to reach patients where ever they are.
#2) Endless Uses for Electronic Patient Communication
Electronic patient communication has a wide variety of applications in the medical industry. Depending on the channel of messaging, healthcare providers can streamline the patient communication process for better health outcomes. Appointment reminders, lab result notifications and collection reminders are just a few uses that help keep patients engaged.
#3) Measurable Benefits to Healthcare Providers
Healthcare providers experience higher efficiency and productivity with the use of electronic patient communication. Patients’ satisfaction and retention is also said to improve with more consistent communication from their healthcare providers. This can also reduce unnecessary office visits and inquiries.
…What about Security?
HIPAA regulations protect patient health information transmitted through electronic patient communication.  >> Check Out Our Compliance Document <<

For more information on improving your quality of medical care with electronic patient communications, download our Guide to Effective Patient Communication today!

Download the Patient Communication Best Practice Guide!

Topics: appointment reminders, Medical, patient communication, patient satisfaction, patient engagement

Developing a School Emergency Response Plan – What You Need to Know

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 03, 2015 @ 10:03 AM

A crisis can happen at any time, anywhere. Effective and safe K-12 schools are well prepared for any potential crisis. Emergency response is an important component of any emergency preparedness and communication plan.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, all school-based emergency response plans should be based on the following 4 phases of emergency management:

1. Mitigation - Create Actions that Reduce or Eliminate Long-Term Risks to People or Property
2. Preparedness - Focus on Planning for National Disaster or Terrorist Events
3. Response - Take Actual Steps to Save Lives and Prevent Further Damage during a Crisis
4. Recovery - Restore the Learning and Teaching Environment after a Crisis

These four phases help create the groundwork for a continuous process where the result of each phase can help build a stronger emergency response plan for each school. A clear understanding of all the phases is needed to coordinate an effective and comprehensive emergency response plan.

The recommendations below are based on the practical experience of developing a school emergency response: emergencyprepschool

1. Building Security and Safety
- Access to school buildings should be limited during the day. (Example: Swipe-Card or Code Key)

- Each school should have a building site map with exits and HVAC/utility shut-offs clearly marked.
2. Preparation for Large-Scale Emergencies
- School administrators and local emergency responders should meet annually to update emergency preparedness plans.
- All schools should have an emergency kit readily available and safety drills should be conducted routinely.
3. Communication
Communication is the foundation of any effective emergency response plan. It helps reduce miscommunication and keeps parents informed.
- Every school must develop a means of rapid communication with parents. Mass notification systems, like Alert Solutions, can reach hundreds and thousands of parents quickly and are extremely valuable.
- Schools should house multiple contact methods for parents, including email address and phone numbers. With Alert Solutions Parent Portal, schools can gain access to an unlimited number of contact points.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ plan that will work for every school. Each individual K12 school and district should modify these guidelines to create an emergency response plan that best suits their needs.

For more best practice tips and tricks, download our Emergency Preparedness Guide today!

Download Alert Solutions'  Emergency Preparedness Guide

Topics: school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, emergency preparedness, emergency response

Using a Short Code for Your Next Mobile Campaign? Read This First!

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

Businesses love sending out mobile campaigns with short codes. They are easily remembered, help to establish brand identity, and can be exclusive if dedicated to one organization.

But they may not be as easy as they look.

Starting a mobile campaign via short code requires a lot of preparation. The short code needs to be procured and licensed. And because of the level of intrusiveness, the legalities surrounding mobile campaigns are stricter than other messaging channels. Businesses need to be fully aware of these laws.

Short code compliance standards put in place by mobile carriers also need to be met:

Opt-in requirements*
Just as in traditional mobile campaigns, you cannot send unsolicited SMS text messages from short codes. You must have consent from each recipient:smsshortcode
  • Mobile opt-in – (when your short code receives an opt-in request directly from a mobile phone)
A double opt-in process is recommended, so that you can confirm the subscribers’ intent. The confirmation should describe the nature of the mobile campaign and the message frequency.
  • Non-Mobile opt-in – (when a recipient provides their mobile phone number, such as through a landing page)
A double opt-in process is required. The confirmation should follow a similar flow as described above.
Mobile carriers require your short code mobile campaign to accommodate HELP and STOP requests:
  • HELP - A HELP response should describe the nature of the mobile campaign, a support line and the message frequency.
  • STOP - A STOP request, or opt-out request, must be handled promptly. An opt-out confirmation must be sent to the recipient and no more SMS text messages may be sent.

*The above pertains to short codes used in the United States. For information about using an international short code, please contact us for more details.

To learn more about our SMS text messaging capabilities, download our SMS text messaging brochure.

Topics: compliance, SMS text messaging, SMS Best Practices, mobile marketing, short code

Four Ways K-12 Schools Are Using Social Media Effectively

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 09:02 AM

Smart phones may be getting the green light in K12 schools across the country, but social media is not yet on the fast track. Parents are worried about bullying, teacher-student online relationships, and some critics fear school security can be compromised too easily.

Despite these fears, social media can be an integral part of your school’s culture. From professional development and improving parent communication to increasing student engagement, social media can benefit k12 school districts in so many ways.

Below are 4 ways schools are using social media effectively today:

1. Professional Development
School administrators are becoming increasingly reliant on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with trends and e-learning tools. When tools and trends go viral, they are more likely to share it with staff members and use them with students. Subscribing to popular education blogs is also a great way school administrators can stay up-to-date with the latest ed-tech news.
>> Subscribe to our blog today and have blog posts sent right to your inbox! <<
2. Course Assignmentssocialmediainschools-1
Many teachers are leveraging social media features in the classroom. Teachers can post assignments and create online assessments. During the winter months, an increasing number of k12 schools districts are using social media to promote e-learning and keep class in session during inclimate weather.
3. Community Outreach
Social media is a great tool for connecting with parents and school community members who are already participating in social media. Schools across the country are using their social media pages to promote various activities (sporting events and fundraisers), gain feedback, or simply start a conversation. Plus, with the increasing awareness of bullying and cyberbullying in k12 schools, social media can also be used to help control rumors.
>> See how one CA school is using social media to prevent cyberbullying. <<
4. Parent Communication
Student families and school community members are increasingly turning to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as an additional means of getting information about their K-12 school or district. By keeping your school’s social media pages updated with the latest school alerts and notifications, student families and staff members can rely on Facebook and Twitter as a vital resource.

To learn how Alert Solutions can help schools improve parent communication with social media, check this out!

Topics: school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education, parent engagement, parent communication

Common Property Management Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

Not all rental properties are the same. But as many property managers will tell you, the challenges they face are similar regardless of geographic location or number of units.

A helpful article from REALTOR Mag outlined some of the most common mistakes made in property management and strategies property managers can use to help overcome them. Have any of these happened to you?

Property Management Mistakesrealtorgivingkeys
1. The terms of the lease are not mutually understood. Not all leases are the same. As such, editing a generic lease document to make it your own may not be the best approach. Consider the unique circumstances at your property.
2. The condition of the unit is not documented during move-in and move-out. Taking photos of a unit before and after occupancy prevents a lot of potential headaches. Have the property owner and tenant provide consent to your findings.
3. Your responsibilities aren’t clear between tenant and property owner. Your greatest protection, as referred to by industry experts, is to clearly outline your responsibilities to the property owner and tenant alike. Keeping these expectations in check is best for everyone.
Property Management Strategies
1. Maintain communication with your tenants. Property managers who stay in touch are more likely to have high tenant retention and satisfaction. Alert Solutions allows property managers to send personalized or mass communications to tenants using the most-preferred channels: email, voice and text messaging.
2. Manage properties in short vicinity to one another. According to Lori Burger, the Institute of Real Estate Management’s president-elect, properties in a manager’s portfolio should be no more than 25 or 30 miles apart. It is a lot easier for property managers to do their job when they drive across town instead of stretching too thin.
3. Don’t sell yourself short. Property management is a difficult line of work. Receive compensation for the work that you do, especially overtime.

To check out the rest of the article, click here.

Alert Solutions' Resident Reach Download the Brochure!

Topics: property management, tenant retention, tenant communication, tenant satisfaction

Education Technology – 3 Money Saving Strategies for K12 Schools

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

Technology is booming in today’s world, and K12 school districts across the county have seen a growing use of technology in their classrooms.

With the increased availability of education technology in recent years and the desire to incorporate more technology into everyday learning, budgeting has become a difficult task for K12 schools.

Between addressing current education technology needs and anticipating future requirements, many K12 schools are struggling to balance the increasing need for classroom technology and infrastructure against limited school budgets.

Michelle Plumbtree, a Chief Management Analyst for the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, has seen these scenarios play out when meeting with several education technology professionals.

For education technology departments looking to get out in front of that challenge and make good financial decisions now, Plumbtree offers the following money-saving strategies for K12 school districts:

1. Avoid Using ‘Rollover Budgeting’ Tacticsschoolbudget
If your K12 school district is using rollover budgeting to manage education technology purchases, it may not be the best approach. No two years are the same. The best approach is to simply start at zero. Then, analyze every line of your school budget to figure out what running a good education technology department for the next 12 months will actually cost.
2. Renegotiate Your Maintenance Contracts Regularly
If you’re using maintenance contracts with any of your vendors, it is important to negotiate those agreements upfront to keep your costs low. For example, many K12 schools will negotiate a 2-3 year contract in order to waive certain fees or take advantage of lower pricing.

Note: Alert Solutions has ZERO maintenance costs. Customer support and training is FREE!
3. Keep Education Technology in the Limelight
It’s easy for education technology to fall by the wayside, especially when the tools, applications and equipment are working well. However, technology changes quickly. Equipment upgrades along with education technology techniques and policies are two areas that should always remain top-of-mind.

To learn more about educational technology check out our other blog posts!

Topics: school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education

Automation is Essential for Successful Patient Engagement

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

The healthcare industry continues to be revolutionized. In fact, since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, many more of our friends, peers and neighbors are receiving medical care than in years past.

With this increase in demand, healthcare providers are filling more appointments, seeing more patients, and balancing more follow ups. But ultimately, even the largest healthcare providers find it challenging to maintain patient engagement per Meaningful Use requirements.

To keep each and every patient engaged between appointments, medical practices cannot rely on manual processes alone. There is another option: automation.

Automation may not be a complete substitute, but it is helpful in many aspects of patient engagement, especially outreach, education and reminders. Read more below:patientengagementrx

1. Outreach
Medical practices can use automated techniques to recall patients that are overdue for a checkup. This can reduce lapses in care while proving more cost effective than mailers and manual outreach from medical practice office staff.
2. Education
It’s common sense: patients with the proper knowledge are more confident about their own health. Medical practices that automate education materials may experience better patient engagement and compliance.
3. Reminders
Automated appointment reminders are crucial to reducing patient no shows – a problem representing the most significant loss of revenue to healthcare providers. Technology allows medical offices to send reminders using the channels most preferred by patients, including email, voice and text messaging.
You may be asking yourself: “why all the buzz about patient engagement?” Because it’s said to improve patient health!
Alert Solutions helps medical practices engage their patients with automation! We even offer tailored automation tools for medical practices using Greenway or Allscripts EHR software platforms.
Contact us today or download our brochure to receive more information.

Alert Solutions' Patient Communication Suite Download Our Brochure!

Topics: automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication, patient engagement

Improving Parent Engagement in K12 Schools – Best Practices

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

Research confirms the engagement of parents and families in their children’s education is critical to a student’s academic success.

For example, the “New Wave of Evidence” report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found that, regardless of family income or background, students with engaged parents are more likely to:

- Earn Higher Grades and Test Scorespowerteacherintegrationbanner
- Attend School Regularly
- Enroll in Higher-Level Programs
- Have Better Social Skills
- Graduate and Go on to Postsecondary Education

K12 schools play an important role in determining the levels of parent engagement. Specifically, schools can outline their expectations of parents and regularly communicate with parents about what children are learning.

To help k12 schools formulate an effective parent engagement strategy that works best for them, we’ve complied some popular best practices below:

1. Create a Welcoming School Climate.
- Provide a Personal Greeting and Welcome Packet for Parents Visiting the School
- Offer Translators to Welcome and Assist Families during School Activities
2. Establish Effective School-to-Home and Home-to-School Communication
- Clearly Communicate School Policies to Parents in Their Home Language
- Establish Formal Mechanisms for Administrators to Communicate with Parents
- Use Parent-Preferred Communication Channels to Accommodate Their Needs
- Expand Beyond Traditional Communication Methods and Reach Out Using Social Media 

3. Strengthen Parent’s Knowledge and Skills to Support Student Learning.
- Make Homework Assignments that Require Students to Discuss with Their Parents
- Engage Parents in Opportunities to Work with Students in Setting Academic Goals

When schools engage parents in ways that improve learning and support parent engagement at home and school, students make greater gains. Also, when schools build partnerships with parents they are able to sustain connections that are aimed at improving student achievement.

Check out a recent testimonial from one of our customers. They are using effective parent communication to achieve parent engagement and experiencing real results. Improving Parent Engagement


Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

Put Your Email Marketing Campaigns to the Test!

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

Testing your email marketing campaigns on a regular basis is very important. It helps you to shape the performance of your email marketing campaign before it’s even begun.

It also helps uncover any potential issues before you click ‘send’. The question is, are you conducting the right tests?

Simple tests like content personalization and subject line variation may not be enough to truly evaluate your email marketing campaign, according to the folks at HubSpot.

They recently posted a great article on more advanced tests you can use to help shape the performance of your email marketing campaign. Here are some excerpts:

- Plain Text vs. HTML: Does it Matter?checklist
Yes! But this could depend on your target audience – B2B or B2C. Hubspot found that simple-looking text emails were more effective in reaching C-level executives. Promotional email marketing campaigns containing HTML graphics might catch the eye of consumers a bit better.

- Call-to-Action Placement
You can never over-think your call-to-action (CTA). Where it lays in your email marketing campaign could have a difference. Try different options to see what brings in the most conversions.

- Take the Time to Check Send Time
Your email marketing campaigns may reach the inbox, but send time increases the chance they’ll actually be opened. Research completed by HubSpot is clever, but sensible at the same time. Read more here.

- Visual or Text Call-to-Action (CTA)
You may be able to figure out which works better with your email subscribers: visual CTAs or text ones. Said another way, is the email subscriber more likely to click on a CTA that is an image or hyperlinked text?

We have a ton of information about email marketing best practices on our blog. Check out our email marketing best practices blog today!

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Topics: audience targeting, email marketing, email marketing best practices

The Relationship Between School Bullying and Academic Achievement

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

Bullying continues to be a hot topic among school administrators, parents and teachers. Both the United States and Canada have created anti-bullying legislation to help school combat this growing issue.We frequently blog about the topics of bullying and cyberbullying as well!

Research on school bullying, student intimidation and school violence demonstrates the negative impact of bullying on student achievement, dysfunctional behavior and mental health issues later in life.        

Demonstrating a direct link between bullying prevention programs and changes in student achievement is problematic because of the large number of variables related to academic performance. However, the documented effects of bullying on student achievement make a compelling argument for the value of these bullying prevention programs.

Below are some examples of research reports documenting to relationship between school bullying and a variant of academic, social and mental health issues:bullyingdepression

Smokowski and Kopasz
This research literature concluded bullying has both short-term and long-term consequences for both the victim and the bully. Victims may suffer from low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, absenteeism and academic difficulties.

Eisenberg and Neumark-Sztainer
This study found bullying is negatively influenced a student’s connection to school and academic achievement. Students who are bullied are more likely to miss school, which in turn causes students to miss out on educational opportunities.

There is also substantial research showing that bullying prevention programs can reduce school bullying, increase student sense of school safety and increase their attachment to school.

How does your school prevent bullyingCheck out our Speak Up! anonymous two-way communication module to help you combat bullying issues!

Download our  Bullying Prevention Guide!

Topics: bullying, cyberbullying, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs

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