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The Gold Standard of Communication for Assisted Senior Living

Placing a loved one with Alzheimer’s or any other memory-impairing disease in an assisted senior living environment is sometimes the best and only option for that person.  If faced with such a situation, you want to ensure they receive the best possible care and ensure their safety.  Therefore, you take a tour, meet with caregivers, and  leave a list of phone numbers for a staff member to call in case of emergency.  Have you asked how communication flows within the organization?  What happens if your loved one falls?  What if they try to escape?  These things often do not cross our minds because we think of a caring staff, a comfortable room, and 24-hour care as the necessities. Additionally, the stress of moving a loved one out of their own homes tends to make us forget to ask the things we need to know.

 

Communication among staff members, residents, and their families is extremely important in an assisted senior living environment.  The days of walkie-talkies are being replaced by wireless technology that virtually guarantees our loved ones’ care and safety.  At Silverado Senior Living, Inc., the mission and vision of memory-impaired residents is to minimize drug usage and help residents live with the new normal of their lives by rerouting, diverting, and re-educating residents.  This mission and vision is practiced within every single department of Silverado, including Information Technology (IT).  You may be asking what IT has to do with you and your loved one.  The answer?  Everything.

 

Communication is Key

 

In an assisted living environment where the nature of the diseases hinders the memories of residents, rapid and dependable communication is crucial.  Residents with impaired memories may become disoriented, forget where they are, and become confused about who the people are around them.  As you can imagine, this is scary and causes residents to try to regain control of their environment.  They may try to escape or use physical contact against others. Moreover, they also need to hear a familiar voice to reassure them everything is okay.  These types of issues make reliable communication an absolute necessity.   

 

By combining Spectralink wireless telephones and infrastructure with HipLink Wireless Paging Software, Silverado reached the gold standard of communication within the company.

 

How it Works

 

Silverado caregivers sign onto the wireless phone system and begin working with residents. If an alarm goes off, HipLink Software will instantaneously generate a brief text which is transmitted to all of the Spectralink wireless phones. This enables any caregiver in the area of the alarm to respond immediately. The caregiver can then acknowledge the situation has been resolved by just pressing a button on the phone, or the caregiver can simply reset the nurse call button in the resident’s room. For example, if a resident attempts to go outside, HipLink immediately sends a text to a Spectralink wireless phone specifying the exact location of the resident.  Another example is the wireless phone, enabling a caregiver to call 911 immediately in the event of a medical emergency. Prior to this technology, a caregiver would call the reception desk who would then call 911. This is wasting precious time and could possibly cause further injury in case of emergency.

 

Home Away from Home

 

Silverado creates a home-like atmosphere and encourages families to visit often. Again, communication is key, especially if the resident cannot remember who is visiting and becomes upset.  By simply pressing a button, help is seconds away.

 

Rick Barker, Silverado’s Vice President of Information Technology states, “The Spectralink-HipLink solution is now Silverado Senior Living’s standard for wireless communication.”

 

HipLink Wireless Paging Software provides the following features:

 

  • Highly reliable, automatic, wireless SMS text alerts to mobile phones or pagers
  • One application to channel all messages through
  • The ability to manage system alerts, network notifications, SQL server alerts, or critical systems alarms
  • Wireless notification is sent to the right person(s) at the right time

 

Having a loved one with a failing memory away from home causes constant worry and stress. These can be reduced by knowing they are receiving the very best of care supported by the gold standard in communication.  For more information, please contact HipLink at 800-524-7503. 

 

Please read more about HipLink and Silverado Sr. Living here

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The Undeniable Value of Mass Notification

 

Let’s be honest, we live in a dangerous world.  From school shootings to bomb threats to gang activities, violence is sadly very prevalent today.  Luckily, we have the public safety system as well as hospitals and other resources who will do anything and everything they can to help us if the need arises.  However, before they can help us, they need to be notified – immediately and accurately.  Notifying one police officer if there is a shooter in the local mall is not sufficient notification.

 

In today’s world, our police departments, fire departments, EMS departments, hospitals, educational institutions, large enterprises, and many others must have the means to reach people promptly when there is an emergency.  This involves having a wireless paging software system with complete two-way SMS texting, voice messaging, and fax messaging capabilities to virtually any device.

 

Identifying and Notifying with GIS

 

When a mass emergency occurs, there is no time for pulling the map out of the desk drawer to find the location of the emergency.  With a mass notification system that has GIS mapping technology, the user can create and interact with a variety of maps and data sources. A GIS module featuring an easy-to-use, fully integrated solution based on geography is vital in an emergency.  First, it must be able to extract data and match it with correlating phone numbers to send voice or text messages to the public.  Using this solution enables the user to zero in on specific locations on the map whether by zip code, a specific point on the map, or even a radius.  Immediately, the group to notify has been identified and a call list is automatically generated. 

 

Voluntarily Registering via Sign-Up Module

 

A Sign-Up Module whereby organizations allow citizens to self-register for emergency alerts is another excellent feature of a mass notification system.  The alerts can be sent to cell phones, pagers, VoIP numbers, and unlisted numbers.  Using the organization’s website, citizens can connect their information to an address in the county or the city’s GIS system. The Sign-up Module is also capable of gathering demographic data.  This means messages can be sent first to people who need more time to react.  For example, handicapped individuals, senior citizens, and even teachers may very likely need more time to escape an emergency situation. Additionally, an organization can opt to have informational topics that citizens can select for timely updates regarding the situation. 

 

Alert Notifications

 

A dependable mass notification system must have a simplified, certified Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) citizen notification module to issue critical public alerts and warnings. 

The types of alerts available should include:

 

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for broadcasting to cell phones
  • National Weather Service (NWEM) alerts for broadcasting non-weather related emergency alerts to the weather radio network
  •  Information exchange using COG to COG with other collaborative operating groups
  • Public feeds

 

There is no room for error when an emergency alert needs to be broadcasted.  A reliable mass notification system will ensure there are no mistakes.

 

Be Prepared

 

Many people still have the “it won’t happen to me” beliefs.  It is time to step out of that mentality and be prepared in case it does happen to you.  With a mass notification system, you can record a message, pre-record a message, type in a message for automatic text to speech conversion, or use a pre-defined template.  The text messages will be sent directly from your system to a person’s cell phone, pager, or email and no special connections are required.  The text message will then be sent to all the phone numbers and text devices identified in the call list.  Progress status and complete reports are also available.  Why is this important?  If you are a college professor and an armed man walks into your classroom, you need the capability to press one button to alert everyone that there is a shooter on campus.  From the dean, to the remaining students, everyone needs to be notified.  By creating a pre-recorded message and simply pressing send, you quite possibly just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. 

 

When the Message HAS to Get There

 

HipLink's Emergency Mass Notification System provides every single one of the applications and features in this article. You have the choice of using a fully hosted system in HipLink’s datacenter, a fully deployed system at your location, or HipLink’s hybrid solution.  No matter which you choose, you are guaranteeing a safer environment for everyone in the event of an emergency.  With over 20 years’ experience in providing emergency paging, emergency text messaging software, and industry-leading mass notification, HipLink is more than capable of arming you with the emergency mass notification system you need.  For more information, contact us at 1-800-524-7503. 

 

 

 

 

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How Enterprises Can Improve Their Crisis Management Strategy

 

There is a shooter in the building.  A patient is missing.  A tornado is seven minutes away.  There is a major fire in the building.  Enterprises will inevitably face crises.  Preparation is key to effective crisis response management. If there is a shooter in the building, the facility is locked down and the police are notified.  This scenario should also include a previously prepared, very rapid announcement to the entire staff for everyone to stay where they are, lock the doors, and hide. Being prepared in this situation could save many lives by simply sending a message – if the messaging system itself is effective. 

 

In today’s world, wireless communication is the most effective method of alerting the right people at the right time that there is a crisis.  Regardless of the time of day or night, wireless communication ensures that, once notified, team members can work together to effectively respond in a crisis.

 

Mass Notification Software

 

The wireless infrastructure consists of many different carriers using varying protocols.  With individuals and enterprises having different needs and tastes, it is impossible for every person to use the exact same wireless device.  The key is to make all the different devices work together. 

 

HipLink is wireless messaging software providing enterprises, law enforcement, fire departments, utilities, and emergency dispatch centers text and voice messaging capabilities to any mobile device and carrier.  A web-based collaborative software that supports your enterprise before, during, and after an emergency, HipLink can work as a stand-alone messaging system or be integrated with virtually any software – including computer dispatch systems, PBXs, or other software for the wireless alert notification component.  Whether you need to emergently notify 50 individuals, 5,000 individuals, or an entire city, HipLink is an established, proven emergency alert system that will meet your mass notification needs. 

 

A robust, secure, and highly scalable wireless communications software, HipLink’s mass notification software has some of the following key features:

 

  • Alerts and notifications under a single umbrella to the widest possible range of devices: phones, pagers, fax machines, email, smartphones, etc.
  • Automatically switch communication protocols or networks when a disaster knocks out a key piece of infrastructure
  • Integrated mapping application sends alerts to very specific areas
  • Dispatch IPAWS from HipLink directly
  • Geographically target WEA, EAS, NWEM, COG to COG, and public feeds
  • Public-facing web sign-up module lets citizens specify the best means of communications

 

Notify the Right Groups at the Right Time

 

Grouping is a major feature of HipLink software that will improve your organization's crisis management strategy by ensuring the correct messages or tasks are assigned to the right individuals at any time, all the time.  These types of groups are:

 

  • Broadcast groups – everyone in the group receives the message
  • On-duty groups – allows for scheduled resources and alerts to be sent to particular groups at any time
  • Rotate groups – allows for even distribution
  • Escalation groups – allow for mission critical alerts that must be answered
  • Subscription Groups – individuals can opt in to receive updates
  • Follow-Me Groups – multiple receivers can be set up for one individual

 

A truly remarkable feature of HipLink is any group can be nested inside another group.  With this feature, an enterprise is equipped with powerful tools to easily build response groups within the organization. 

 

Unlimited Degrees of Permissions

 

If administration and upkeep are dependent on one unit in an enterprise, even the most robust solution can be inadequate.  HipLink Department Feature allows for distribution of administration and user functions to be delegated while still maintaining control.  Unlimited degrees of permissions can be assigned.  Smaller departments can support their own users, update schedules, and give permissions, ensuring that your wireless platform is always maintained and up-to-date with very little, if any, impact on the enterprise. 

 

Prepare, Respond, Recover

 

Utilizing HipLink, an enterprise is supported before, during, and after a crisis.  To prepare, an organization can perform test drills and see which areas need improvement, test carrier efficiency, assign responsibilities for responses, and more.  During a crisis, HipLink sends the most powerful alert notifications to all devices.  It allows one to see real-time status of resources, execute a response plan from devices, as well as perform remote applications from devices.  To aid in recovering from a crisis sooner, HipLink provides a performed detailed analysis of personnel response, carrier efficiency, and system performance.  This enables an enterprise to assess deficiencies and plan for faster responses in the event of future crises.

 

Maximum Reliability

 

In the event of a crisis, one of the very worst things that can happen is failure of the primary message delivery method.  The chance of this occurring with HipLink is non-existent, as HipLink has built-in failover functionality at the carrier level and the receiver level.  This means the message will be delivered even if the primary delivery method should fail. 

 

In the event of a crisis, you certainly want the best possible system for mass notification, alerts, and messaging to ensure the safety of your employees as well as protect your enterprise.  Integrating HipLink into your existing software is certain to improve your enterprise’s crisis management strategy.  For more information, contact HipLink at 800-524-7503.

  

 

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Keeping PHI Secure to Avoid HIPAA Data Breaches

 

In this rapidly advancing technological world, an increasing number of healthcare providers are incorporating electronic health record (EHR) technology. In addition, they are also connecting to health information exchanges more frequently, making patient health information (PHI) more susceptible to online security threats as well as possible HIPAA data breaches.

 

The convenience of PHI being more accessible to providers also carries the risk of being more accessible to hackers and unauthorized users.   Effectively monitoring and managing potential risk is imperative for a healthcare organization.  Risk assessments play a key role in staying HIPAA compliant.  Mobile devices and ransomware threats are examples of why healthcare providers need to be prudent in their risk analyses.  The slightest oversight or lapse could lead to a HIPAA data breach as well as a lengthy, expensive recovery course.

 

What Is a HIPAA Data Breach

 

Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a data breach is the forbidden use or disclosure of PHI under the Privacy Rule that jeopardizes the security or privacy of patients.  For example, if a nurse’s assistant is a friend of patient Jane Doe and posts on social media that Jane Doe’s health condition is worsening, this is a HIPAA breach.  Another type of data breach is unencrypted data being lost or stolen due to using backup tapes for data archival. Portable devices that are unencrypted or not properly safeguarded by passwords, personal identification numbers, or other security measures, pose a much greater risk of a data breach. 

 

There are three exceptions to the HHS Privacy Breach.  First, if a healthcare worker unintentionally acquires the use of PHI while acting under authority of the covered healthcare organization, this is an exception. Secondly, inadvertently sharing PHI with another person who has authorized access to PHI is not a breach.  For example, John Doe is a patient at XYZ Hospital.  Dr. Smith is his cardiologist and Dr. Jones is his nephrologist.  To properly coordinate a heart and kidney care plan of treatment for Mr. Doe, Drs. Smith and Jones are allowed to share PHI pertaining to the patient.  Lastly, if a healthcare organization believes that the person to whom the PHI disclosure was made is unable to retain the information, this is also not considered a data breach. 

 

Understanding HIPAA data breaches and the exceptions to the rule provides healthcare organizations the information they need to formulate extensive data security plans to keep PHI safe and secure.  One of the easiest ways to prevent an employee data breach is by training, documenting, and monitoring employee adherence to security policies and procedures. In addition to training your own employees, remember to be vigilant when checking your business associates’ compliance to ensure their employees have been trained.

 

Ransomware Attacks – Are They HIPAA Data Breaches

 

Whether or not a ransomware attack is a HIPAA data breach is determined on a case-by-case basis.  To put it somewhat simply, if electronic protected health information (ePHI) is encrypted as a result of a ransomware attack, it is considered a HIPAA data breach because the PHI was able to be accessed.  Therefore, it is a disclosure that is not permitted under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. 

 

On the other hand, if the ePHI encrypted in a ransomware attack was already encrypted in alignment with HIPAA regulations, it may or may not be considered a breach.  Each situation is treated uniquely.  The HHS Office of Civil Rights states, “If the electronic PHI (ePHI) is encrypted by the entity in a manner consistent with the Guidance to Render Unsecured Protected Health Information Unusable, Unreadable, or Indecipherable to Unauthorized Individuals such that it is no longer ‘unsecured PHI,’ then the entity is not required to conduct a risk assessment to determine if there is a low probability of compromise, and breach notification is not required.”

 

Ensuring PHI Protection

 

The HHS PHI Privacy Rule protects all individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. 

 

In order to determine the best security measures, a healthcare organization must consider its size, capabilities, and complexity.  Furthermore, the technical hardware and software infrastructure must be evaluated as well as the expense of security measures.  Last, but certainly not least, every healthcare organization must scrutinize the likelihood and possible consequences of plausible risks to ePHI.

 

To protect ePHI, it is imperative that healthcare organizations keep all security measures up-to-date, confirm compliance with state and local laws, as well as HIPAA compliance.  There are several ways ePHI security can be compromised, and that is why facilities have to be cautious and able to adjust security measures when necessary. 

 

HipLink offers real-time secure messaging for Apple or Android devices. The user can send secure text messages, encrypted for HIPAA compliance from a desktop or smartphone.  For more information, contact us at 408-399-6120.  

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How to Effectively Implement Secure Text Messaging in Healthcare

 

Implementation of Secure Text Messaging (STM) affords healthcare providers a convenient, efficient method to communicate with colleagues in real time.  Lab results, medication requests, and test results can all be sent and received via a secure, encrypted text messaging app. 

 

However, implementation alone does not ensure usage of the STM app.  Many healthcare providers may be skeptical of the new changes to the existing system.  In order to augment adaptation, hospitals need to be driven and encouraging in their efforts to promote usage of the app.  An internal marketing campaign, support from the IT department, and positive feedback from users are some ways this can be done. 

 

 

Garner Support and Encourage Change

 

Procuring executive support and buy-in is crucial.  To achieve this, the project leader or manager must demonstrate how STM tackles business problems and how it can be advantageous to the hospital, i.e., improved communication amongst healthcare providers, HIPAA-compliant, and improved patient satisfaction.

 

Additionally, influential end users can help stimulate change by being advocates of the new technology.  When these users understand the benefits of STM to their daily work routines and the ease of use of the app, they will be eager to spread the word, resulting in others being enthusiastic about the new technology.  Technologically experienced physicians who are held in high regard by their peers are imperative in this process.  Colleagues tend to consider the opinion of a trusted source when determining their own stance concerning new technology. 

 

Encouraging change within technology is actually quite simple with an STM app.  Explaining that STM operates using the same methods as regular texting will immediately ease the transition into the new technology.  Detailing the benefits STM brings to each individual using the app is also a key point.  Does it save time?  Does it provide quicker communication with a colleague that ends in better care for a patient?  Incorporating clinical communications such as nurse call and code calls also offers workflow improvements to communicate more efficiently.

 

 

Promote the Advantages

 

Acceptance of STM also requires a marketing campaign.  Preferably with the help of the marketing department, plan a promotional crusade that ensures everyone is aware of the app’s availability, the rollout schedule, training opportunities and, specifically, the benefits for the end users.  Before the launch of the app, generate excitement with the help of newsletters, posters, banners, and blogs.  It is much easier to integrate new technology at an event that everyone is looking forward to.  Pre-launch blogs detailing the app and its ease of use as well as its many benefits can go a long way towards increasing enthusiasm. 

 

The rollout event is as essential as the marketing campaign.  To ease the transition, provide initial training, and answer questions, the event should have representatives from the IT department and from the vendor.  Seeing the app and having any concerns addressed in person will help end users accept it and perceive it as simple and beneficial not only to themselves, but to the patients as well.  Don’t forget to include the influential physicians and users as advocates for support at the event. 

 

 

Provide a Dependable Infrastructure and Troubleshooting Process

 

Comprehensive Wi-Fi and mobile coverage throughout all hospitals and affiliate locations is absolutely essential.  Lack of an excellent wireless and cellular signal not only leads to frustrated users, it can also have a devastating effect on the quality of patient care.  Critical messages that are delayed by a poor signal are unacceptable in a hospital setting.  Additionally, users who get frustrated by a poor network will not adapt to the STM. 

 

As with all technology, many things can occur that affect the functionality of the app.  A problem with the app, data accuracy of the contact directory, device settings, and more can all cause a glitch.  Implementing a self-service FAQ comprehensive database of the most common questions and troubleshooting problems will save time and solve the simplest of problems.  For more complex issues, a service desk can be established.  Users should have multiple means of accessing the service desk, including an avenue in the app itself.  Users who have a difficult time getting help when they have problems are likely to give up and return to the old, unsecure texting to communicate with others.  By getting quick answers and solutions to their problems, users are much more likely to engage with the app.

 

 

Plan and Deliver

 

For an STM app to be successfully adopted, it requires an excellent user experience.  As with all apps, most people blame one glitch on the app itself when the problem may actually be something else entirely such as poor cellular network coverage.  To prevent this, IT should test the app extensively to ensure a smooth user experience.

 

In-depth planning and preparations will help you deliver a more successful rollout to augment acceptance and enthusiasm of the STM app which is an invaluable, efficient communication tool that saves time and speeds the delivery of patient care.  For more information about HipLink and our STM app, contact us at 1-800-524-7503.

 

 

 

 

 

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