Alert Solutions Blog

3 Challenges Facing Healthcare Providers in 2015

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

It goes without saying that healthcare providers are constantly facing new challenges. This is especially true for physicians vested in the daily operations of their own medical practices. From finances to HIPAA compliance, there is a lot of information to keep track of.

One article from Medical Economics outlines many of these obstacles. Here are a few of the most common challenges:stresseddoctor

Challenge 1: Meaningful Use Stage 2Has your medical practice met meaningful use requirements? We hope so; as of February 2015, eligible professions will see a 1% reduction in Medicare reimbursements for every year they don’t attest (up to a maximum of 5%). Another point of contention is the patient requirement: 5% have to engage in their health information through a patient portal.
Challenge 2: Paperwork
According to The Practice Profitability Index, 70% of physicians spend at least one day per week on paperwork, up from 58% in 2013. A major source of this burden is prior authorizations, which are increasingly required by payers for prescription drugs and medical procedures. All of this administrative duty carves away at time that could otherwise be spent providing care or following up with patients.
Challenge 3: Increased Operational Expenses
A 2014 survey from Medical Economics revealed more than 84% of physician medical practices are doing the same or worse financially than a year earlier. With such little growth, Medical Economics offered the following tips: Many medical practices are adopting automated patient communication systems so that staff can focus on other responsibilities, like greeting patients in the office.
Alert Solutions offers this technology to practices using Greenway, Allscripts, and any other practice management system.
For more information, download our brochure.

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

Most K-12 Schools Lack Anti-Bullying Policies Despite State Legislation

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

A new 108-page report from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network examined over 13,000 k-12 schools in the U.S. and found that most are lacking structured anti-bullying policies despite many state laws requiring otherwise.

Research for the report was conducted from September 2008 through March 2011 and assessed the existence of anti-bullying policies in all k-12 public school districts from all 50 states.

A startling statistic shared in the report was that only 2% of school districts were providing anti-bullying policies that included all examined elements: enumeration, professional development and accountability.antibullying

1. Enumeration
Protections for students, including explicit prohibitions again bullying based upon students’ actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
2. Professional Development
Training requirements for teachers and staff on bullying and harassment.
3. Accountability
Providing incident reporting to the school district and/or state.
Here are some other key findings:
- Approximately 3 in 10 school districts had no anti-bullying policy whatsoever.
- Many of the school districts lacking an anti-bullying policy were not in compliance with state laws.
- Only 2 in 10 schools that had an anti-bullying policy provided professional development for teachers.
The report suggests, at a minimum, k-12 school districts should be implementing anti-bullying policies that reflect mandates and guidance in state laws.
Do you know the anti-bullying legislation for your state? Click here to find out.

For more best practice tips and tricks, download our Anti-Bullying Strategy Guide!

Create an Anti-Bullying Strategy Download our Guide!

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

Email Marketing Experts Share Their Biggest Email Deliverability Hurdles

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

According to Return Path, one of the biggest challenges facing email marketers today is that they don’t understand their email deliverability problems.

To make matters worse, email marketers usually don’t have access to the decision data that causes emails to be blocked by email providers and spam filters in the first place.

This is why it’s increasingly important for email marketers to understand the root causes as to why their email marketing campaigns don’t make it to the inbox. A recent blog post from MarketingSherpa helps to makes sense of it all.

Here are some of the biggest email deliverability hurdles according to email marketing experts:emaildeliverabilityhurdles

Hurdle #1: Email List Quality
Return Path suggests companies should keep a close eye on their email lists to make sure they’re updated and relevant. Poor list hygiene can be responsible for poor sender reputations among email providers, which leads to reduced email deliverability. Before clicking ‘Send’, it’s also important to make sure your lists are segmented correctly to provide recipients with the most relevant content.
Hurdle #2: Email Content
What’s relevant to one recipient may not be relevant to the next. This is the lesson behind email content; there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality anymore. In addition to content, the frequency of the email marketing campaigns you send is also preferential to many subscribers, so be sure to pay attention to it!
Hurdle #3: Technical Problems
Have you taken a technical approach to email deliverability? Email providers are relying more and more on email authentication technology such as SPF and SenderID to verify incoming messages. If your emails aren’t equipped, it may be contributing to your deliverability hurdle.
Don’t forget: Email message size can affect email deliverability, too! Check out our recent blog post.
For more information on improving your email marketing deliverability, download Alert Solutions’ Email Deliverability Guide!

Download Now!

Topics: email deliverability, marketing lists, email marketing, email marketing best practices

Did You Know Staying In School Helps You Live Longer?

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

We all know staying in school has financial advantages, but did you know it can also have health benefits?

A new study estimates more than 145,000 deaths per year could be prevented in the US if everyone who dropped out of high school had earned their diploma. This estimate is on par with the number of deaths that could be avoided in the US if smokers were to quit smoker!

The student concluded that, in 2010, 145,243 deaths could have been avoided if people who didn’t finish high school had earned either a GED or a high school degree. An additional 110, 068 deaths could have been avoided if people who dropped out of college had stayed and earned their bachelor’s degree. 

Researchers followed more than 1 million people between 1986 and 2006, looking at their education levels and death rates. They also used information from people born in 1925, 1935 and 1945 to determine how education levels affect death rates over long periods of time.

The study also suggested people with higher levels of education may live longer for many reasons, including:

  • Having Higher Incomes
  • Tend to Engage in Vigorous Exercise
  • More Likely to Have Access to Health Insurance
  • Having Better Psychological Well-Being

This study confirms the importance of reducing chronic truancy in k-12 schools. Good attendance is vital to a student’s success.

Here are some recent attendance best practice tips we have shared on our blog:

1. Emphasize Attendance From Day One
2. Use Parent-Teacher Conferences to Discuss Attendance
3. Identify High-Risk Students Early
4. Send Automated Attendance Alerts to Parents

What do you think about this study? Share your thoughts on our blog!

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

Not Sure if Your Tenants are Satisfied? Here’s 3 Ways to Find Out

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

Property managers depend on satisfied tenants to renew their leases, refer family and friends, and ultimately grow their businesses. 

However, many property managers can’t be certain about their lessees’ satisfaction, especially if it’s too late to fix.  It can be hard to gauge!

The following are a few ways property managers can begin to measure their tenants’ satisfaction.  The more you know, the more you can do to improve!tenatnsatisfaction

1. Distribute Tenant Satisfaction Surveys
It may seem obvious, but what better way to find out if your tenants are satisfied than to just ask them?  Consider sending out surveys in the communication methods your tenants prefer.  Value feedback can be collected through hot key responses from touch-tone phones or by email, if you choose to skip the paper altogether.

2. Put a “Face to the Name”
Aside from the beginning of a lease, property managers may only meet with tenants in trying times – such as a maintenance issue.  Depending on the number of units, it can be hard to meet with tenants face-to-face regularly, let alone remember their names!  However, property managers who interact with tenants more often experience higher satisfaction rates.

3. Create a Tenant Retention Program
The importance of tenant satisfaction and retention should resonate throughout your entire staff.  Many property managers achieve this through a tenant retention program with clearly defined objectives and measures.  For more information, click here.

Wondering how to get started?  Alert Solutions can help!  Our communication platform offers property managers the messaging channels most-preferred by tenants. 

Download our Property Manager brochure to learn more.

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

Improving Student Attendance Rates – 5 Strategies That Work

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

Student attendance rates have always been an area of concern for school administrators, community members and legislators. Truancy is much more than just an empty seat in a classroom.

Students who don’t go to school can’t learn. Many studies have shown truant students often engage in high-risk behavior and are at a higher risk to drop out of school altogether.

There are many reasons students give for not attending school, including homelessness and fear of being bullied. Truancy is a complex issue that needs multidimensional solutions.

The following strategies are recommended by the National Dropout Prevention Center and have the most positive impact on the high school graduation rate:

1. Creating a Safe Learning Environment
A comprehensive violence prevention plan, including conflict resolution, must deal with potential violence as well as crisis management. A safe environment enhances positive social attitudes and effective interpersonal skills in all students, improving student attendance rates.

2. Focusing on Parent Engagementpowerteacherintegrationbanner-1Research consistently finds parent engagement has a direct, positive affect on student achievement. Right Track is a great example of how schools can improve parent engagement. Right Track is a collaborative approach that focuses on family-wide support services and parental accountability to remedy chronic truancy.

3. Establishing a Mentoring Program
Mentoring is a supportive relationship between a mentor and a mentee that is based on trust. Two major national studies have reported positive results from mentoring programs. Tierney and Grossman report a 37% decrease in truancy among participants in the Big Brother/Big Sister programs.
4. Offering Alternative Schooling
Alternative schooling provides potential student dropouts with a variety of options that can lead to graduation, with programs paying special attention to the student’s individual social needs and academic requirements.
5. Promoting Professional Development
Teachers who work with youth at high risk of academic failure need to have an avenue by which they can continue to develop skills. Providing ongoing learning for teachers and staff is paramount. Studies show low-achieving students increased their achievement level by as much as 53% when taught by a highly effective teacher.
Looking for more tips andtricks? Download our Guide to Reducing Chronic Truancy!

Download Now!

Topics: attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, truancy

Stressed by Overdue Patient Balances? Try These 4 Collection Tips

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 09, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

Practice managers and their staff are always looking for creative ways to collect on unpaid patient balances, and for good reason: Patient co-payments amount to 20% of a medical practice’s revenue.

With the evolution of our nation’s healthcare system, experts say this could become an even greater problem as patients enroll in higher-deductible plans. Healthcare providers will become increasingly reliant on patient payments for their bottom line.

Did you know that a 2014 report revealed that 38% of debt held by third-party collectors originates in healthcare? Before you turn to a collections agency, there may still be some things you can try. Consider the following tips:

Tip #1: Discuss Out-of-Pocket Costs With Patients Before TreatmentCollectionREminders
Depending on the insurance coverage, it can be tricky to estimate a patient’s co-payment before care. But disclosing an estimate can help patients make arrangements for payment ahead of time and avoid overdue patient balances.
Tip #2: Accept Multiple Payment Procedures
Most medical practices already accept multiple forms of payment, such as cash, credit cards or checks. However, do you allow your patients to submit payments online? Check your patient portal, some may offer this functionality!

Tip #3: Take an Analytical Approach to Debt
Identifying patients who typically have overdue patient balances gives office staff the option to arrange payment plans before-hand.
Tip #4: Deploy Automated Collection Reminders
Medical practices are already using automated collection reminders to remind their patients of outstanding balances. Automating these collection reminders can:
- Reduce Length of Account Delinquency
- Increase Patient Response Rate
- Improve Staff Efficiency
- Reduce Outbound Calls
Alert Solutions can help your medical practice automate collection reminders, download our brochure today!
To read more collection tips, click here.

Topics: automated collection reminders, automated patient notifications, Medical, patient communication

Alert Solutions Awarded REMC $AVE 2015 Contract for Automated Notification Systems

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

Alert Solutions, a leading provider of award-winning school communication technology, today announced that the Regional Educational Media Center Association of Michigan (REMC) awarded the company a three-year contract for automated notification systems for schools across Michigan.

The REMC Statewide $AVE Bid Project is a cooperative purchasing program developed to secure large volume bid prices on a variety of educational resources for Michigan schools and other eligible agencies. Vendors are selected based on product knowledge, support, price, and customer satisfaction. 

“With such a large customer base in Michigan, we were thrilled to be awarded this contract with $AVE Bid Project,” said David Baeder, CEO. “Customer satisfaction is crucial to our success, so seeing the award rationale was ‘customer choice’ reaffirmed the improvements we continue to make are being positively received by our clients.”

Alert Solutions’ flagship education-focused division is committed to providing affordable and effective messaging solutions that meet the specific needs of districts and schools with fully hosted, unlimited emergency and standard messaging via telephone, email, social media and SMS text messaging.

Alert Solutions currently serves more than 1,000 school districts and 2 million students worldwide.

To learn more, click here.


Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education

FCC Telephone Consumer Protection Act – New Updates You Need To Know!

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 10:07 AM

Just last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received over 200,000 reports regarding “robo” voice calls and SMS text messages, the largest category of complaints. The FCC still receives thousands of complaints each month.

In response, the FCC recently released new updates to its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The purpose of this update is to sort out any loopholes and strengthen consumer defenses against unwanted voice calls and SMS text messages.

Is your business sending mass voice calls or SMS text messages? If so, pay careful attention to this latest TCPA update to see how you may be affected.

Below is a highlight of some of the new provisions:FCCUpdates

1. Call-blocking technology now allowed
Service providers can now offer market-based solutions to consumers for the purpose of blocking “robo” voice calls on their landline or mobile phone.

2. Consumers are more empowered
Voice call and SMS text messaging recipients have the right to stop automated messages in any reasonable way at any time, even if they had consented previously.

3. Clarification on Internet-to-Phone SMS text messages
SMS text messages generated from the internet are considered to be from an “auto-dialer”, meaning consent must be given before messages are sent.

4. Regenerated phone numbers aren’t loopholes
Phone numbers that have been reassigned to a new person, such as a through a mobile carrier, can only be called once.

All previous TCPA stipulations are still in effect, including the requirement for businesses to obtain explicit consent before calling or texting.

You May Be Exempt!
There are specific exemptions from these new TCPA updates. Financial institutions and medical providers sending alerts or reminders are exempt, but marketing-related or collection calls are not.

Brush-up on the legalities of marketing communication; download Alert Solutions’ Voice Compliance Guide today!

To read more of the FCC’s press release, click here.

Topics: compliance, SMS text messaging, voice broadcasting, voice broadcasting best practices, SMS Best Practices

Most Parents Don’t Believe Summer Learning Loss Affects Their Child, Study Finds

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 @ 10:06 AM

Summer is an important time when students can either get ahead or fall behind academically, depending in large part on their resources and opportunities.

Earlier this month we shared a blog post on summer learning loss. Research suggests some students can lose more than two months in reading achievement over the summer months. It is a serious problem.

Despite this research, a new survey conducted through Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s found 61% of parents don't believe that summer reading loss affects their own children.

Additional survey findings include:studentsreading

  • Roughly 65% of parents with young children say reading books during the summer is "extremely important."
  • During the school year, on average, parents of young children say their child spends about 5.7 hours a week reading books, on par with time spent using a smartphone or tablet (5.1 hours). 
  • More than 76% percent inspire their young child to read during the summer by allowing him/her to select his/her own books.

The survey results follow an extensive two-year research study conducted by RIF on summer learning loss. Their focus is to create opportunities for parents, teachers and school community members to minimize summer learning loss.

The survey included 525 U.S. parents of 5-11 year-old students in K-12 schools.

To learn more about RIF, click here.

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, student engagement, summer learning loss

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