Alert Solutions Blog

Patient Communication Preferences – A Vital Component of Good Patient Care

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 @ 09:03 AM

The importance of your patients’ communication preferences is very far reaching.  It not only impacts your ability to communicate with patients, but the effectiveness of the communication as well.

By now, medical practices are fully aware of the Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirement: Send reminders per patient communication preference for preventative/follow-up care.  This requirement was the onset of the patient communication preference discussion.

To fully understand the importance of your patients’ communication preferences, consider the following:

1. Patient Communication is More Effectivepatientpreferences.png
A Medical Group Management Association Conference speaker was quoted as saying, “If I communicate with you in a channel you prefer, it's going to be more effective”.  In addition to increased effectiveness, don’t forget:

2. Compliance is Maintained
The HITECH Act, along with its Meaningful Use objectives, strives to provide patients with more efficient, secure and accurate information that will be sent via patient-preferred communication channels.  Accommodating this preference keeps medical practices compliant.

3. Patient Self-Care is More Successful
With up to 80% of self-care medical mistakes blamed on poor communication, medical practices can leverage preferred methods of contact to improve self-care compliance and health outcomes among their patients.

You’re more likely to accommodate all preferences with a multi-channel patient communication solution – like Alert Solutions! 

For more compliance resources, download our Medical Practice Compliance Guide.

Healthcare Compliance Guide Download Here

Topics: compliance, Medical, patient communication

3 Steps to Improved Voice Broadcasting Campaigns

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

Automated voice broadcasting campaigns allows organizations to send mass information to subscribers’ mobile phones or land lines.  

It’s a preferred form of communication for a variety of applications, such as surveys and appointment reminders, as it delivers a consistent message to all recipients.

As with any form of outreach, there are ways to optimize the effectiveness of voice broadcasting campaigns.  Continue reading for three clear-cut steps to improvement:voicecalls.png

Step 1: Segment Your Call List. Though time consuming at first, list segmentation allows you to send the most relevant voice broadcasting campaign to each group of your audience.  Consider where each recipient lives so you can send a call at the appropriate time of day in the right time zone.

Step 2: Introduce Yourself & the Purpose of the Call. Within the first few seconds, your automated voice broadcast should announce who the call is from and what the purpose is.  This helps create a sense of transparency and clarity with the call recipient – leading to fewer hang-ups and opt-outs.

Step 3: Include a Call-to-Action in Every Voice Broadcasting Campaign. Your voice broadcasting campaign could be purely informational, but the purpose of the call likely ends in your recipient doing something.  What is this?  Whether a survey, confirmation or pressing a key to transfer back to your office, it should be clear and concise.

Don’t Forget! Voice broadcasting is regulated by the FCC to protect individuals from receiving unwanted calls.  Download our Voice Compliance Fact Sheet for more details.

Voice Broadcasting Tips Download Now

Topics: compliance, voice broadcasting, voice broadcasting best practices

Year in Review: Alert Solutions’ Most Read Education Blog Posts of 2016

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 @ 11:12 AM

From being named a Top 100 Product by District Administration Magazine and receiving all three integration badges from PowerSchool to launching our ASI Mobile App, 2016 was a HUGE year for Alert Solutions’ education division.

Our education specialists were also hard at work providing k-12 school administrators with all the hot topics on our blog. Here are the most viewed education blog posts of 2016:

1. Purchasing a New K-12 Notification System in 2016? Read This First
With so many vendors to choose from, it’s an intimidating task to know where to begin your search. This blog post revealed 8 important questions you should ask before you purchase a k-12 school notification system.

2. FCC Update for K-12 Schools – Clarification to TCPA Legislationeducation.jpg
In the summer of 2015, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order (Ruling) related to the TCPA. There was a huge amount of concern about these changes. In response to these concerns, the FCC released a new ruling in the summer of 2016 that granted broad exceptions for many communications to parents. This blog post shared those key points.

3. School Climate Linked to Teacher Retention and Student Achievement
A new report from New York University’s Research Alliance for NYC Schools found that school climate is directly correlated to things like teacher retention rates and student achievement. This blog post shared the responses from over 31,000 teacher surveys.

4. 4 Ways K-12 Schools Can Start Using Social Media
With more than 75% of the US population owning a social media profile, many schools are using Facebook and Twitter to interact with parents, staff, and even students in the classroom! This blog post shared 4 of the top ways school administrators are using social media.

5. School Bullying Incidents Decline Thanks to ESSA Guidelines
According to a Relationship Education (RE) study conducted by Healthy Relationships California , new education legislation called the Every Student Succeeds Act offers a good opportunity for schools to see reduced bullying and violence in relationships. This blog post shared the results of a study that exposed 7,000 students across California to RE.

What was your favorite education blog post from 2016? Let us know!

Check Out More Blog Posts!

Topics: multi-channel messaging, compliance, bullying, cyberbullying, school notifications, school announcement, school safety, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education, school programs, parent communication

FCC Update for K-12 Schools - Clarification to TCPA Legislation

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

Back in March 2016 we blogged about recent updates that were made to a federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  Here is a breakdown:

In the summer of 2015, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order (Ruling) related to the TCPA. In the Ruling, the FCC stated the following regulations will now apply to educational organizations including K-12 schools:

  • Consent is required from the “called party” (parent or guardian) assigned to the telephone number dialed and billed for the call.
  • Called parties must be able to revoke consent at any time (opt-out) and the sender of the message (K-12 school or district) must be able to show proof of the consent.
  • Consent is not required for voice calls and SMS messages for “emergency purposes”.

There was a huge amount of concern about these changes, as it would make it difficult for K-12 schools to communicate with parents and guardians regarding school issues and events that were not considered ‘emergencies’.

In response to these concerns, the FCC recently released a new ruling that granted broad exceptions for many school-related and emergency communications to parents.iStock_000013340578Large-resized-600.jpg

Here are the key points from the new FCC ruling: 

  • The "emergency purpose" exemption has been clarified to also include K-12 school "calls or messages relating to weather closures, incidents of threats or violence to the school due to fire, dangerous persons, health risks and unexcused absences."
  • It remains a best practice that K-12 schools regularly confirm parent/guardian contact information, with the FCC encouraging regular updates of emergency calling lists.      >> Parent Portal <<
  • Schools must still honor opt-out requests from parents at any time, even if a parent had earlier provided a contact number.
  • K-12 schools still face risk if they are not sure if the mobile phone numbers they are calling or texting belong to parents, implying the need for schools to regularly reaffirm numbers from parents and to ensure reassigned numbers are not inappropriately contacted.

Ensure your K-12 school is well-informed of regulatory requirements so you can continue to reach out to parents and guardians in the most compliant manner.  Download Alert Solutions’ TCPA Compliance Guide today!

Have more questions?  Contact us at (800) 929-1643 or via email at info@alertsolutions.com.

Topics: compliance, school announcement, powerschool, education

Have You Visited our Education Resource Center Lately?

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 11:03 AM

The dedicated education experts at Alert Solutions are always focused on expanding our Resource Center.

These resources are intended to education school administrators in various education-related issues and topics including: emergency preparedness, bullying prevention, FCC compliance, parent engagement and more. 

FCCUpdates.pngNew! TCPA Compliance Guide
Ensure your K-12 school is well-informed of regulatory requirements so you can continue to reach out to parents and guardians in the most compliant manner.

Parent Engagement Strategy Guide
Learn how you can develop an effective parent engagement strategy at your school that will directly impact student success.

bullyingdepression-resized-600.gifAlert Solutions’ Bullying Prevention Guide
This guide includes tips for creating or improving your bullying prevention plan in order to reduce occurrences of bullying and cyberbullying in your school.

Alert Solutions’ Emergency Preparedness Guide
This best practice guide guide contains tips for creating or optimizing an emergency preparedness plan for your k-12 school.

Alert Solutions’ Guide to Reducing Chronic Truancyattendancehomelessstudents.bmp
Learn more about the issues of chronic truancy in K-12 school districts and receive tips and strategies on improving attendance in your school.

Streamlining Report Card Distribution Guide
This guide provides K-12 schools with a way to overcome the obstacles of traditional report card distribution while saving precious budget dollars and staff time.

Download your favorite today!

Topics: compliance, bullying, attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, emergency preparedness

Telephone Consumer Protection Act – What K-12 Schools Need to Know

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 01, 2016 @ 11:03 AM

School administrators across the country understand the importance of parent communication. Study after study proves an increase in parent communication and engagement helps boost student achievement.

Using an automated school notification system is the most efficient way to communicate with parents, especially with the expansion of digital communication channels available: email, voice, SMS text and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

With the recent update to a federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Alert Solutions wants to ensure k-12 schools stay well-informed of regulatory requirements imposed by the FCC so they can continue to reach out to parents using the communication channels they prefer.FCCUpdates-1.png

What is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)?
The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented the TCPA to prohibit calls made to telephone numbers using (i) automatic telephone dialing systems, or (ii) artificial or prerecorded voices without receiving prior consent from the called party. The FCC also considers a text to be a call.

What changes were made?
In the summer of 2015, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order (Ruling) related to the TCPA. In the Ruling, the FCC stated the following regulations will now apply to educational organizations including k-12 schools:
  • Consent is required from the “called party” (parent or guardian) assigned to the telephone number dialed and billed for the call.
  • Called parties must be able to revoke consent at any time (opt-out) and the sender of the message (K-12 school or district) must be able to show proof of the consent.
  • Consent is not required for voice calls and SMS messages for “emergency purposes”.

What does this mean for my school?
For school districts using automated notification systems, this means ensuring processes for obtaining consent, managing opt outs and carefully considering what is and is not an emergency alert. Here are some suggestions:

1. Tag Messages by Category - Alert Solutions enables its customers to tag every scheduled broadcast with a message category, including ‘emergency’. Clearly indicate to staff members what types of communications warrant this category (school closure notifications , etc.).

2. Use a Parent Portal - K-12 schools should provide parents and guardians with an online tool to manage their communication preferences. Alert Solutions encourages the use of our Parent Portal features throughout the school year. Our PowerSchool Parent Portal Integration or the Parent Dashboard allows parents to set their preferences by message category and communication channel.  

Bonus Tip! K-12 schools can also consider a document for parents and guardians to complete during registration. The form can be used to document written consent for the communication channels and types of messages parents wish to receive. 

>> Download a Sample Here <<

3. Make Sure Your Service Provider Manages Your Opt-Outs - Alert Solutions maintains do-not-contact lists for all communication channels providing options to be opted-out of receiving messages.  This will immediately block contact numbers upon recipient request.

To learn more about how Alert Solutions helps k-12 schools comply with the new TCPA regulations, contact us at (800) 929-1643 or via email at info@alertsolutions.com.

Topics: compliance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool

New Year, New Meaningful Use Updates for Healthcare Professionals

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

In October of 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced changes to HITECH’s Meaningful Use program. 

This was a result of feedback from the healthcare industry. Referred to as the Final Rule, these new changes will continue throughout 2017.MeaningfulUse.png

Below is a highlight of the changes, if you haven’t already seen them:

1. 90-day Reporting Period – Regardless of the Stage you were previously in, all healthcare providers will attest for a 90-day reporting period in 2015 according to the Final Rule. This is a shortened reporting time frame.

2. All Providers are Now in Stage 2 of Meaningful UseThe CMS has eliminated Meaningful Use Stage 1 in order to simplify the program and group healthcare providers into the same Stage. However, if you were in Stage 1 for 2015 you will be considered “Modified Stage 2” in 2016.

3. Patient Engagement Threshold ReductionsDue to complications, thresholds for viewing PHI (patient health information) electronically have been lowered from 5% to “at least 1%” of patients. There is also no longer a threshold for secure messaging but rather the capability be set and in place.

Unchanged: Sending reminders using patient-preferred communication channels for preventative and follow-up care. See how Alert Solutions helps.

4. Data-Entry Measures Have Been SimplifiedFewer measures are required for reporting. 

Save the Dates!  Medicare-eligible professional and hospital attestations for the 2015 program year opened on January 4, 2016 and will be accepted until February 29, 2016.

Want to read about the rest of the Meaningful Use updates?  This website has a very good summary.

For more compliance resources; download our Medical Practice Compliance Guide!

 

Topics: compliance, Medical

3 Challenges Facing Healthcare Providers in 2015

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 11:07 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

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

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 11:07 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

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

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 12:02 PM

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.
 
HELP and STOP*
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

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