Alert Solutions Blog

2015 Is Almost Here! Where Does Your Medical Practice Stand with Meaningful Use?

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

You probably know that 2014 was the last year to initiate participation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. We hope that your medical practice took full advantage! And now that 2015 is almost here, where does your practice stand with the HITECH Act’s Meaningful Use? Are you on the right track?

What you should have achieved by now [Stage 1]:

  • Electronically capturing patient health information in a standardized format.
    • Using that information to track key and clinical conditions.
    • Communicating that information for care coordination processes.
  • Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information.
  • Using information to increase patient engagement with patients and their families.
  • Objectives apply for patients who are aged 65 or older and 5 or younger.

Read more about Stage 1 objectives here.

Stage 2 of the Incentive Program began in 2014 and will extend as far as 2016. What doemedicalofficestaffs Stage 2 entail?

The objectives you should start focusing on in 2015, if not already [Stage 2]:

  • More rigorous health information exchange.
  • Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results.
  • Electronic transmission of patient-controlled data.
  • Extends patient reminders to all patients. Alert Solutions can help!

2016 is the last year to participate in the Medicaid Incentive Program, so there’s still time.

Looking for more information on improving patient engagement at your medical practice? Check out our automated patient notification solutions today!

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

3 Ways to Reduce Student Dropout Rates in 2015

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

In 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that U.S. high school graduations rates hit an all-time high of 80%. This statistic is on target to reach 90% by 2020.

However, more than 3 million young people leave America’s public high schools each year without graduation. Are you surprised by this number?

The decision a student makes to drop out of school usually isn’t based on one factor, but several risk factors that result in disengagement from school. From state to state, the risk factors for dropping out are similar.

From chronic absenteeism and socioeconomic status to homelessness and poor parent engagement, these factors are demonstrated by leading research organizations.

Below are 3 ways school districts can use these risk factors to reduce the likelihood a student will drop out:

1. Early Identification of High-Risk Studentsattendancehomelessstudents-1
The earlier any problem can be identified, the great the impact. For example, research in Baltimore schools concluded students who were chronically absent in Pre-K and kindergarten were more likely to repeat a grade and were also absent more often in later grades than their peers. Repeated school absence increases the likelihood a student will drop out altogether. School administrators should strive to identify these risk factors as early as elementary school or even preschool.
 
2. Tracking Prescribed Activities and Interventions
The best way to reduce or even eliminate a risk factor for a student is to implement an action plan that has worked for other students in similar circumstances. Being able to track these initiatives is important to building a database of proven solutions. In Connecticut, lawmakers are considering a bill to help curb the issue of chronic absenteeism. The bill includes an intervention plan that incorporates school administrators, student families and the school community.
 
3. Improving Student Dropout Prevention Efforts
Despite the importance of reducing absenteeism, it is vital to evaluate the whole student. This information should follow students from school to school and be used to identify challenges and share best practices. Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, plans to spend $150 million on healthcare needs such as community services, social workers and psychiatric help. These funds will help school administrators evaluate the whole student and establish interventions that successfully reduce student dropout rates.

Another important thing to note is just because a student has dropped out does not mean schools are unable to get them to return. For example, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 started a “Reach Out for Dropouts” program to recruit students back to the classroom. The school districts dropout rate is 2.5% lower the South Carolina average.

For more information on how to reduce student dropout rates at your school, Download our Guide to Reducing Chronic Truancy today!

Topics: attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs

Capitalize On Mobile Marketing Campaigns This Holiday Season

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

With the holidays right around the corner, we hope your mobile marketing campaigns are in full swing. But if not, there’s still some time to capitalize on your SMS text messaging subscribers! With the rapid delivery AND response of mobile marketing, it would be a mistake not to get your message out this way.

Need some assistance? Below are some helpful tips to consider before the holiday season is history!

Mobile marketing isn’t just about the SMS text message.
As powerful as your 160 characters may be, a mobile marketing campaign should stretch far beyond the SMS text message. Remember that emails can be opened on mobile devices, too. And whether your message is email or text, the call-to-action could lead recipients to your website. Is it optimized for mobile devices? A mobile-optimized site has a better chance for conversion than a non-optimized one.
 
Make your subscribers’ consent worthwhile.
We all know that SMS text messaging can be one of the most invasive forms of communication, so reward your subscribers’ consent and make it highly valuable to them! Offer exclusive deals that can’t be found in your store, catalog or website. Simply put, make your subscribers glad that they agreed to receive text messages from you.

Timing can make or break your campaign.holidaymobilemessaging
We’ve talked about it before: Send-time is a contributing factor to mobile marketing success. Here are some thoughts on picking the best send-time to send your campaign:

  • Explore your target demographic
  • Segment subscribers by geographic location
  • Review your website’s traffic history
  • Consider email campaign performance

 Need some more motivation? Download our SMS Text Guide today for more information.

Topics: SMS text messaging, holiday, SMS Best Practices, mobile marketing

When Students Can’t Pay for K-12 School Lunch, Everyone Loses

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 09, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

Everyone wants children to have access to healthy meals at school, but financial realities often force school lunch program operators and school administrators to make tough choices. Research indicates that an increasing number of students are coming to school each day unable to pay for their meals.

A 2012 SNA survey of school meal program directors found that 53% of school districts were experiencing an increase in unpaid meal charges. Of those facing the increase, 56% anticipated the accumulated debt from those charges would be greater at the end of the school year compared with that of the previous school year. 33% anticipated the increase in school lunch debt would be substantial.schoollunchline

Some school meal programs acquire thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars in debt from unpaid meal charges. For example, New York City’s public schools reportedly incurred $42 million in unpaid meal debt between 2004 and 2011.

School lunch programs are self-sustaining and financially independent of a school district’s education budget. However, federal regulations prohibit school lunch programs from carrying debt from unpaid meal charges from one school year to the next. So when parents don’t pay the lunch balance, and school meal programs are unable to cover the costs, school districts are forced to pick up the tab.

With school budgets shrinking year after year, schools are struggling to overcome the increasing debt school lunch programs are costing. To help combat this growing issue, schools are implementing automated low lunch balance reminder systems like Alert Solutions.

Automated low lunch balance reminder systems send reminders to parents when their lunch balances reach a certain threshold, prompted them to refill the account. << Learn More >>

What is your school doing to help reduce school lunch debt? Share your thoughts with us on our blog!

Topics: school announcement, lunch balance, power announcement, powerschool, education

Keeping Rental Properties Safe During the Holidays – Helpful Tips

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Dec 04, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

The holiday season is upon us! And in this time of year property managers need to be especially vigilant, according to an article by propertymanager.com. Why, you ask? The reason is because of unique risks that increase around the holidays – theft, fires, and for many of us, chilly temperatures.

Check out the tips below to keep your rental properties safe this holiday season…and all year round!

Basic Tenant Safety Measurestenantsafety1

Your tenants might not need a reminder, but it’s always good to offer one! Some basic safety measures include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Don’t leave lit candles unattended.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Keep heat sources clear of flammable objects.
  • Keep Christmas trees watered regularly.

Identify tenants travelling out of town for extended periods:

Are any of your tenants leaving town for the holidays? If so, keep an eye out for unfamiliar people or vehicles on the property. Parcel deliveries shouldn’t be left outdoors, and indoor light timers can reduce the risk of break-ins. Lastly, in colder climates, remind your tenants to regulate their thermostats appropriately so the pipes don’t freeze!

No matter how many units at your rental property, keep the lines of communication open between you and your tenants. Everyone at your property can work together to ensure a safe and secure holiday season for all.

Looking for more tips and tricks? Download our Tenant Communication Best Practice Guide today!

Topics: holiday, property management, tenant communication, tenant safety

Effective Teacher-Family Communication Improves Student Engagement, Says Study

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 02, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

Parent engagement has been a hot topic among K-12 school administrators for quite some time. But what about student engagement? When schools engage families in ways that improve learning and support parent involvement at home and at school, students make greater gains.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found frequent teacher-family communication immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior and class participation.

The study was a randomized field experiment in which 6th and 9th grade students were assigned to receive a daily phone call home and a text during mandatory summer school programing.

On average, teacher-family communication increased the odds that students completed their homework by 40%, decreased instances in which teachers had to redirect students’ attention to the task at hand by 25%, and increased class participation rates by 15%.parentengagement

Drawing upon surveys and interviews with participating teachers and students, the survey identified 3 primary mechanisms through which teacher-family communication likely affected engagement is a positive way:

K-12 schools play an important role in determining the levels of parental involvement in school. When schools build partnerships with families and regularly communicate with parents they are able to sustain connections that are aimed at improving student achievement and increasing student attendance rates.

Looking for an effective communication solution for your school? Check out Alert Solutions’ Suite of School Notification Systems.

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

K-12 Leaders Select Alert Solutions as a “Readers’ Choice Top 100 Product”

Posted by Nina Caliri on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

Alert Solutions, a leading provider of award-winning school communication technology, is thrilled to announce the Communication Suite for PowerSchool users has been named a District Administration, “Readers’ Choice Top 100 Product for 2014.”

Using multiple messaging channels, Alert Solutions tailors communication based on school and parent DA_top100_2014preferences, using real-time contact information every time a message is sent. Eliminating the need to sync or transfer data again, Alert Solutions’ infusion with PowerSchool is the forefront of its technological advantage.

“Alert Solutions is honored to be included on District Administration’s Top Products list again,” stated Dave Baeder, CEO of Alert Solutions. “Our company strives to provide school administrators with the most efficient way to communicate with parents, students and staff members. Our flagship education division is focused on expanding our product offering to meet the growing needs of our customers. ”

Alert Solutions was selected by District Administration’s editors from a record 2,400-plus nominations. This is the second time in three years Alert Solutions has been awarded the “Reader’s Choice Top 100 Product” for its PowerSchool Communication Suite.

Check out our press release.

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

Reducing Chronic Absenteeism in NYC Schools – A Proactive Approach

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Absenteeism is a major issue that many K-12 schools are combating today. Missing class does not only affect that student’s future, but the future of other students who do attend school. Teachers aren’t able to move on in their coursework when numerous students are absent for long periods of time. This delays, and sometimes prohibits students from learning everything they should within the current school year.attendnace

According to a recent New York City study regarding absenteeism in poverty stricken neighborhoods, “87,000 elementary school children, from kindergartners to fifth-graders, missed more than 10 percent of the 2012-13 school year.” Not only were these students chronically absent in the 2012-2013 school year but, “At least one-third of the students were chronically absent for five consecutive school years.” These statistics are alarming. However, some political and educational leaders are taking it into their own hands to help stop this epidemic of absent K-12 students.

The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has decided it was time for a change. He announced a new program to embed into schools with the highest truancy rates in less fortunate neighborhoods. He plans to spend $150 million on healthcare needs such as community services, social workers, and psychiatric help – while making the school day hours longer and increasing the school year with weekends and summertime days.

Another proactive leader for K-12 schools in the fight against chronic absenteeism is Principal Patricia Mitchell of school P.S. 48 in South Jamaica, New York. She has decreased her school’s truancy rates from 550 students to about 20 students. She has gone above and beyond the calling of a principal by visiting student homes to find out why her students were missing school.

Mitchell discovered some parents didn’t want to send their children to school because their clothes were dirty. Parents couldn’t get to the Laundromat before school so they had their children stay home. Mitchell accommodated this issue by providing a washer and dryer at school as a convenience for parents. Another method Mitchell uses to prevent chronic absenteeism is to celebrate students by hosting parties when they make significant improvements in attendance.

What are some techniques your school has to prevent absenteeism? Tell us in the comments below!

For tips on how to prevent chronic absenteeism at your school, download our Best Practice Guide today.

Topics: attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, truancy

3 Ways Social Media Can Empower Healthcare Providers

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Patients are increasingly relying on connected health devises to remain in touch with their physicians. According to a recent Athena Health Study, patients actually expect convenient, 24/7 access to their physicians’ medical practice and their health information.

“The connected health markets are experiencing tremendous growth both in end-user connected devices and on the institutional side,” said Harry Wang, director of Health & Mobile Product Research.

As the connection between medical practices and their patients continue to tighten, here are 3 reasons why healthcare providers should use social media to remain successful:

1. More Young Adults Trust Medical Information Shared via Social Media
According to PwC Health Research Institute, 90 percent of participations between 18-24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media network. Also, nearly 80% of those participants would share their own personal medical information online. socialmediahealthcare-1
 
2. Instant Feedback Can Benefit Patients and Healthcare Providers
Patients are actively using social media as a way to express their opinions and experiences. According to a recent poll, patients expect to hear from their medical practice within a few hours after requesting an appointment or follow-up via social media.
 
3. Medical Practices Can Use Social Media as an Outcome-Based Measurement
Social media allows healthcare providers to build initial trust with a potential patient through its online presence. Having a strong online presence can help separate themselves from their competition.
 
In addition to social media, communicating with patients regularly is also important to increase patient engagement and maintain a high level of patient retention.

To learn more about Alert Solutions’ Suite of Reminder Systems for healthcare providers, click here.

Topics: Medical, patient communication, patient engagment

Engaging Subscribers through SMS Marketing– 3 Guidelines to Follow

Posted by Erika Scialdone on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 13:11 PM

SMS marketing is one of the fastest ways to communicate with your subscribers today.

In order to retain engaged subscribers, your SMS marketing campaigns should include helpful and beneficial information. Your SMS marketing campaign should also not be disruptive or unrelated to your business, as this can cause subscribers to consider your campaign as spam.

Here are 3 guidelines to follow to create a more successful SMS marketing strategy:

1. Promote a Valuable Offer
Subscribers want to be excited about your campaign! Your company needs to understand your subscriber’s needs are before you can send out an SMS marketing campaign with an offer. If you think your mobile offer isn’t enticing enough or the value of the offer isn’t noteworthy – you’re best practice is not to send the offer and think of something better.                                               

With the valuable offer in mind, two key elements to use for your SMS marketing campaign should include highlighting the valued offer at the beginning of the SMS text message and making sure the offer creates a sense of urgency. For example, use phrases like “Limited time offer!” or “Offer expires this Sunday! Better act fast!” This could motivate the customer to use the offer as soon as possible.automatedcollectionreminder-2

2. Create Exclusivity with Subscriber VIP status
Make your mobile subscribers feel like they are a part of an exclusive club with VIP status. Not just “anyone” received the exclusive offer – but they did.  When mobile subscribers receive an SMS text message with an offer knowing everyone can use it – the deal becomes undervalued and less appealing.

3. Call to Action is Key to Subscriber Engagement
Give your mobile subscribers directions to use the call-to-action link you have embedded in your SMS marketing campaignThese call-to-action links can go directly to your homepage, a landing page, a bar code page or any page you think is necessary for your customer to engage in the SMS marketing campaign. 

How do you engage mobile subscribers with your SMS marketing campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

To learn more about SMS text messaging best practices, download our Guide to SMS Text Messaging Success!

Topics: SMS text messaging, SMS Best Practices, mobile marketing, call-to-action

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