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Welcome to our Blog! Please join the conversation with the latest company news and industry trends!

Jasmina Jahic

Jasmina Jahic

Hello,


I am the Marketing Manager at HipLink and I tremendously enjoy being part of this committed and driven team of people. I am an avid blogger and hope to bring insightful and educational content that can benefit your organizational goals and provide helpful industry news. 


-Jasmina Jahic


Find me on LinkedIn!


 

Ensure Effective IT Alerting During Outages

In the business world of today, IT infrastructure downtime is unacceptable and bad for business. Worldwide communication must happen in seconds. Even when aspects of network infrastructure are unavailable the rest of the world continues to work.

 

One of the issues facing companies today is IT alerting. Many systems have appropriate support to alert the right IT personnel in the occasion of an outage. However, what happens when the communication method for your alert structure is the part of the system that is down? In the case study that follows, we look at a law firm that experienced this issue and how HipLink provided an effective solution.

 

When a large national corporate law firm identified gaps in its IT alerting system, the company's network monitoring application was robust and fired off emails to IT staff when issues arose. This system worked well, using email as the emergency line by which personnel received messages.

 

Challenges arose when the right people were not receiving intended messages. Other concerns were what would happen if the email server was part of an outrage and what mechanism would key IT staff receive alerts.

 

The law firm needed an additional layer of IT alerting, a way to use dial-up messaging as a workaround when email was unavailable. Employees of the firm that needed constant access to data used wireless laptops and mobile phones. The firm needed a way for the IT systems to communicate with these devices other than email.

 

The answer to the problem was HipLink Solutions’ wireless alert notification software. As the firm already used Microsoft Operations Manager and SMARTS, HipLink integrated seamlessly to offer a workaround in the case of emergency. HipLink’s wireless alert notification software integrates easily to several host protocols. These include TAP, WCTP, SNPP, SMTP, DTMF, and HTTP. These terms are IT-speak for it works with all the commonly used language protocols used to communicate in the digital world.

 

In this case, the law firm used TAP. The TAP protocol is used to easily send messages over landline modems, bypassing any internal systems that may be affected by an outage. This workaround allowed for specified IT team members to receive alerts even when email was not accessible.

 

HipLink’s industry-leading programs and team offered an innovative solution to a simple problem. IT alerting systems help ensure that the right people know about issues so that resolution happens fast. Less down time equals better customer experiences, greater revenue and better business relationships.

 

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Streamline Your Wireless Communication Infrastructure

Safelite’s infrastructure is comprised of hundreds of applications, monitored constantly by a network monitoring system. Previously this system did not have a useful way to notify technicians wirelessly of any sudden network anomalies.The company’s main messaging protocol was email, which is unreliable for the notification of network service outages.

 

Any wireless communication between teams required a great deal of tedious programming, including typing individual email addresses for delivery.Precisely for this reason, Ted Meisky, the Manager of Open Systems for Safelite was tasked to find a more reliable wireless communication system for his company. During his search he discovered that HipLink was the only viable solution.

 

Here are some reasons that led to Safelite to choose HipLink to help streamline their wireless communication infrastructure:

 

 
Scheduling and Escalation

 

Upon looking for a wireless communication solution perfect for his company, Ted performed copious research. His results led him to conclude that only HipLink would work with Safelite to find the perfect communication plan for their company. Ted stated that he was “immediately impressed” with HipLink’s very robust group scheduling and escalation features, both of which Safelite had been sorely lacking in their past communications plans. HipLink was able to integrate with the company’s existing contact lists. Safelite was then able to program primary and secondary escalation of network alerts to 80 receivers. HipLink connects to a wide variety of communication types, including email, dial-up, and other wireless messaging protocols.

 

 
Incredible Expandability

 

Ted also found that HipLink’s incredible expandability was a must-have for Safelite. Using HipLink’s command line interface (CLI), Safelite was able to write the code for an additional front-end application that gave individual support groups extra control over their specific scheduling requirements. With this additional feature, the company is able to do things like overriding a team member’s on-call status. With so many receivers on so many different teams, the flexibility of changing schedules at any time is invaluable to the company.

 

Overall, Ted has found that HipLink was the perfect choice for Safelite’s new wireless communication system. It allows the company to centralize the management of their mission-critical alerts while also working around multiple complex schedules. Above all, HipLink worked to redesign communication within the company without forcing the company to redesign their existing infrastructure.

 

 

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Modernizing Communication to Improve Efficiency

Tooele County was quickly emerging as a profitable and attractive destination for those businesses that were looking to find a growing base of customers. According to reports, Tooele County had also seen a major increase in job growth. Moreover, Tooele County is home to a number of tourist attractions. Tooele County in Utah is only about a thirty minute commute by car from Salt Lake City, making it an ex-urban community that continues to grow in popularity with new families and residents.

 

 

Modernizing Emergency Services

 

Due to infrastructure growth, jobs, and population, Tooele County has had to change its’ emergency services to meet the growing demand. In order to modernize the communication and improve the efficiency of the emergency services units of Tooele County, the county adapted the Spillman CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) system. This system uses wireless communications in accordance with a partnership through HipLink’s software.

 

By combining the Spillman CAD and HipLink software, the first responders of Tooele County are able to send and receive automated messages. Both the inbound and outbound messages have real-time updates when responding to either an emergency or a crisis in the county. Text messages are delivered automatically by HipLink’s messaging software and the cell phones and receivers of first responders are connected to agency personnel. Luckily, the men and women of Tooele County emergency services no longer have to wait five minutes or ten minutes for these messages to come through. They will be kept frequently up to date in case they are needed in the county.

 

 

The Benefits of HipLink

 

Because of HipLink’s easy functionality, a registered user of the system can easily access needed tools. For instance, the user could simply log-in, type up a message, select which group(s) of emergency personnel should receive the message, and then hit ‘send’ to relay the message. This simplification saves time and money. Tooele County saves money in their budget by eliminating the need to buy radio pagers to stay in touch with other emergency services personnel.

 

HipLink’s software allows any and all emergency personnel to receive text message updates and alerts directly to their personal cell phone or smartphone device. If first responders have a question about any text message(s), they can reply directly to the sender of the message(s) and ask for clarification if they have any questions or concerns. Instead of worrying about a lack of radio pagers or their poor functionality, HipLink fills in the gap and helps the emergency services of Tooele County get the job done.

 

 

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10 Steps for Ensuring HIPAA Compliance

Avoiding HIPAA violations is vital to any organization. This is especially true since penalties have continued to increase under the Omnibus Final Rule.

 

The following 10 steps are suggested to help organizations achieve HIPAA compliance with the final rule:

 

 

1. Development of Privacy Policies

 

Privacy policies play a major role in HIPAA compliance. Under the final rule, healthcare organizations must develop and implement privacy and security policies and procedures. These policies and procedures should be well documented and include steps to take when a breach occurs.

 

 

2. Appointment of Privacy and Security Officers

 

Security goes hand in hand with privacy. Therefore, all healthcare organizations should have a privacy and security guard. These jobs can be done by two people or one individual, but they must be conversant with all HIPAA regulations and policies.

 

 

3. Conducting Regular Risk Assessments

 

Health privacy and security is at risk daily, in this technological age. In order to identify vulnerabilities, healthcare organizations should regularly conduct risk assessments. This will ensure that health information is secure and prevent future problems.

 

 

4. Adoption of Email Policies

 

In regard to the use of email, policies must be in place that both protect and guard the transfer of health information. While HIPAA does not prevent the use of email for transmitting protected health information, healthcare organizations should make sure that their patients are aware of the risks that come with distributing health information over email. Email encryption is the best solution for healthcare organizations. It ensures that patient health information remains secure.

 

 

5. Adoption of Mobile Device Policies

 

Strict policies should be implemented regarding the storage of protected health information on portable electronic devices. The removal of these devices should be regulated from the premises. Healthcare organizations should familiarize themselves with HHS guideline on how to properly use mobile devices.

 

 

6. Training

 

Regulations and policies are continually changing to stay on top of privacy and security risks. For this reason, all employees that disclose protected health information need proper training in order to stay in compliance with HIPAA. There should also be regular refresher courses to update employees on new policies and procedures.

 

 

7. Notice of Privacy Practices

 

A notice of privacy practices gives patients a sense of security because it helps them understand just how their information is protected. All patients should receive a Notice of Privacy Practices. This should also be displayed on the healthcare organization's website and the organization should obtain an acknowledgment receipt from all of their patients.

 

 

8. Entering into Valid Agreements

 

Healthcare organizations work with a myriad of business associates, from billing to imaging. Before entering into any new agreements, organizations must verify the validity of all associates and subcontractors. Any existing and future business associate agreements should be in compliance with updated changes to HIPAA under the final rule. One such change is the expansion of business associate liability.

 

 

9. Adoption of Potential Breach Protocols

 

All healthcare organizations must have a protocol for investigating potential breaches of protected health information. The Risk of Harm Standard and the risk assessment test can be used to determine if a breach has occurred. The appropriate authorities should be contacted if a breach has occurred.

 

 

10. Implementation of Privacy Policies

 

Having policies is good, but without proper implementation, they are empty words. Privacy and security policies must be properly implemented by healthcare organizations. Moreover, violation of these policies should result in the sanction of any employee who violates them.

 

Following these 10 steps helps to ensure that healthcare organizations remain HIPAA compliant. With the changes and updates of this final rule, staying on top of HIPAA compliance means a smaller likelihood of violation and penalty. It’s also advised that healthcare organizations check the available resources on the Office of Civil Rights website.

 

 

 

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Reduce Cost and Dependency On Paging

Saving lives is one of the main purposes of a hospital. In order to fulfill this purpose, a hospital must have clear communication. Healthcare providers work together and are constantly in communication in order to provide the best healthcare possible. However, trying to manage multiple pages can cost both time and money. One hospital found a solution to this problem and it’s saving them in a big way.

 

The Problem

 

Within the hospital, pagers are used for communication between the staff. For example, caregivers often page doctors for the needs of multiple patients. This requires doctors to manually check on each patient in two ways. They must make sure that the patient being paged about is either getting covered by another specialist, or decide whether they need to go take care of the needs of that patient themselves.

 

One hospital realized that this process was taking up to 20 minutes of time and costing the hospital. During this time, the doctors were not taking care of patients and were costing the hospital money for standing around trying to make sure that each patient was covered. While this seems like a short amount of time, on average a healthcare worker goes through hundreds of these incidents per year. The time adds up. These incidents ended up costing this hospital tens of thousands of dollars every year.

 

To try and solve this problem, they used an outside paging service, but this service alone cost thousands of dollars per month. In order to solve this problem, the hospital needed a way to repeat messages to unanswered pages and involve a backup resource after that. By not requiring each person to manage their pages, the caregivers would be able to tend to the next emergency or task. This would significantly cut expenses for the hospital and would reduce the amount of dependency on outsourced paging services.

 

The Solution

 

HipLink provides an easy way to configure the hospital's unique process for patient coverage of several types of emergencies. In action, HipLink sent pages multiple times, provided grouping, and escalation functions. This means that caregivers were no longer wasting time managing their own pagers. They were able to continue on with their work with the assurance that patients in need were still getting help. They also provided multiple messengers so that they weren’t just relying on one system to communicate.

 

The Results

 

By using Hiplink, this hospital was able to reduce their monthly expenses. Moreover, they were also less dependent on an outside paging agency for their run practices. Hiplink also improved their patient response time, lowered operation costs, and increased productivity. It’s estimated that because of Hiplink, this hospital saved over $100,000 during their first year of use.

 

Time is so important in a hospital. Wasting time can cost mass amounts of money and lives. By using Hiplink, this hospital was able to make comprehensive improvements. They made more money, wasted less time, and saved more lives. This is why this hospital, along with many others, have implemented Hiplink into their business.

 

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Increase Safety and Security through Interoperable Communication

The world of communication changes rapidly, and when internal and external paging methods cannot keep up, major operations face a communication crisis. One of the busiest international airports in the world, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, found itself in just such a situation. After discovering what changes were needed, O’Hare International Airport proceeded to look for a solution that would save time, money, and lives.

 

The Problem

With tens of millions of passengers and hundreds of thousands of flights going through O’Hare every year, superior communication is essential. Safety and security depend on interoperability and straightforward communication between not only various terminals and departments within the airport, but also with federal agencies, emergency services, and police. In the case of an international airport, these safety and security needs have a direct impact on national security.

 

The existing paging system depended on five hundred dedicated terminals. While this alone was a bit of a logistical nightmare, the situation was even more complicated. Each terminal depended on an agent or operator to send a page or wireless message. The processes had to be repeated for repeated messages. It was tremendously time consuming and unwieldy. In the worst cases, it could take hours to notify all relevant personnel and responders. In an industry that depends on speed, Chicago O’Hare needed a better solution to their communication needs.

 

The airport needed a centralized design that would allow rapid communication and cut down on costs. In addition to these basic requirements, O’Hare needed a system that could categorize reports based on departments and a web-based Graphical User Interface to ease use and further speed deployment. These requirements would build a reliable system that solved immediate problems and set up the airport for future communications developments.

 

HipLink’s Solution

HipLink brought a solution that addressed two of the airport’s major concerns immediately. HipLink Application Messaging became part of the communication center. Thanks to the design of the system, it provided a centralized messaging solution while also allowing modular organization. Scalable and flexible, the system would allow for future developments and expansions with relatively little effort. In addition to answering O’Hare’s primary needs, the intuitive system promoted rapid learning. It wasn’t difficult to integrate into the airport’s system or to train their employees.

 

The Results

By blending analog and wireless solutions, the new system is much better suited to an international airport’s needs. The cost of running the paging system dropped considerably, and responder response time also improved. In some cases, the response time went from hours to minutes.

 

The new system utilizes automated features, such as failover, to ensure the necessary responders receive their messages. With the system’s modular structure, O’Hare’s communication specialists improved their organization to consider things like location, responsibility, agency, and even the severity of the emergency. This would not have been possible under the previous system.

 

A single terminal now gives operators superior control over paging and messaging. It’s the ideal solution for the busy international airport, both now and for the foreseeable future. Passengers and employees are safer, and the nation is more secure.

 

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Advanced Technology That Improves Communication

Loblaw Companies Limited shaped and in many aspects created the modern supermarket. Self-serve style supermarkets were an innovation, and the chain had over 1,000 locations with a new set of headaches to handle. Communication was top priority. That’s where HipLink joined Loblaw Companies Limited and had to make sure Canada’s largest food distributor kept up with the demand.

 

The Basic Issue

 

Loblaw’s technical support group had a lot riding on their shoulders. They oversaw the software that controls distribution, inventory, and billing departments (among others). They worked hard to make sure systems stayed active, but no program is perfect. When one system went offline, they had to be prepared to spring into action. Communication was key. Paging key personnel or placing a few calls was not enough. Too many calls went unanswered and pages were lost. They needed a faster, real time way to connect with staff on location to ensure the downtime doesn’t impact the entire business.

 

Technical Problems

 

Basic solutions like calling and paging were used for years, but as technology advanced, the need for a more efficient way to communicate became imperative. It can become quite easy for things to go wrong when you’re picking up a phone or sending a page. Even when the system is working perfectly, it’s time intensive and eats resources that the technical support group could be placing elsewhere.

 

The problem with replacing the system, however, had to do with size and scalability. Using phones and pagers wasn’t working perfectly, but it was working alright: orders were mostly getting filled, however the communication through manual paging and phone calls was very time consuming. Loblaw concern was that they didn’t want to jump from a workable, inefficient solution to one with greater drawbacks. “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” could drastically impact the business. Moving forward with an enterprise-wide solution wasn’t feasible. Choosing a difficult to implement solution wouldn’t allow them to roll it out to the rest of the company in stages. They were at a standstill until they found HipLink.

 

HipLink’s Flexible Solution

 

HipLink offered the functionality of other systems but with the opportunity to quickly launch a simple, straightforward solution that solved their immediate problems. Loblaw was able to see HipLink in action before committing to an enterprise-level system upgrade. It installed quickly and barely interrupted any workflow. Scaling was simple. HipLink rose to meet the challenges and impressed the support team with its responsiveness and ease of use.

 

Loblaw is a large company, but you don’t have to be a large company to benefit from HipLink. Wireless communication is key to handling time-critical, high impact information. HipLink is a powerhouse, whether it's used in one department or all of them. Best of all, it grows along with your business.

 

 

 

To read the full case study, click here.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saving Lives through Improved Communication

Medical centers are in the business of saving lives, making patient survival rates heavily dependent on the expediency and efficiency of the medical center’s communication methods. For instance, the ER nurse activates the trauma teams and the doctors and staff need the paging system to keep each other informed of developing situations and emergency cases. Unfortunately, the most common technical solutions for medical communication are outdated and inflexible. 

 

The Oklahoma Medical Center

Medical centers need very specific communication systems in order to meet HIPPA standards which require that sensitive information is protected. This results in limited upgrade options that can restrict opportunities for growth and improvement. However, medical centers do grow. One of the primary problems with an existing system at Oklahoma Medical Center was its failure to keep pace with other key systems. The distributor’s poor customer service and technical support made it difficult to fix problems or improve existing flaws.

 

An Oklahoma Medical Center needed more from their communication service. They needed hardware and software that could reach doctors and specialists on any device or platform. Any potential solution would have to reach staff on various carriers. A web-based graphical user interface (GUI) would simplify communication. Most importantly, the new system needed to be reliable, and it needed to back up that reliability with redundancies.

 

HipLink’s Solution

HipLink drew the Oklahoma Medical Center’s attention with the HipLink Desktop Messaging solution. It started at the heart of the medical center’s system by addressing the need for a web-based graphical user interface. This centralized system creates a natural shortcut to processes that took far longer under the old system. As departments were able to use templates for rapid messaging, first responders no longer had to go through phone trees. In addition, on-duty staff could rely on their messaging system to alert them in emergencies.

 

HipLink also implemented carrier redundancy. The system provided additional reliability with automatic failover and carrier support. With the system’s flexibility, the medical center is free to grow and adapt to new technology. This is thanks to HipLink’s scalable products, which transfer easily between different platforms, devices, and carriers.

 

A Brighter Future for Patients

The centralized solutions that HipLink brought to the Oklahoma Medical Center immediately eased the center’s mission to provide the best quality care to patients. With the new system in place, doctors and staff can rely on their paging system. It reaches everyone, cuts down wasted time, and is already saving lives.

 

Time is everything in a medical center, especially one with the diverse range of services offered by the Oklahoma Medical Center. HipLink’s centralized communication system made it possible to communicate faster, easier, and more reliably. Ambulance crews can get information back quickly, and data goes out to all of the relevant teams rapidly. Most importantly, HipLink remains involved with their system, providing the support the medical center requires. 

 

 

Read our case study HERE.

 

 

 

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Toms River Improves First Responder Communication

No one needs good communication like first responders. The information delivered by dispatchers can mean the difference between life and death, and a single missed message could mean a lost life. The New Jersey town of Toms River found itself facing a crisis. They dealt with hundreds of callouts a day and the old system simply couldn’t handle that volume of dispatches. It was time for a fresh solution. Lives depended on it.

 

Not only is Toms River the county seat, but it serves as an evacuation point, vacation destination and has a military base nearby. The demands for emergency services changes with each season. While flexibility is on every business’s shopping list, it’s harder to achieve than many assume. First responders deal with a wide range area, including barrier islands that have to be accessed through neighboring towns. They cover a lot of ground, and with all the seasonal guests, it is easy for callouts to become overrun.

 

This is exactly what happened. Toms River relied solely on a radio paging system to handle callouts and dispatch. The police, fire department, and ambulance staff all used the same system. It didn’t take long for it to reveal its flaws. In addition to its limited capacity for callouts, the radio system didn’t work well for officers at the edge of the system’s range. The calls never reached those answering calls from inside structures like shopping malls and apartment complexes. It was a dangerous gap in the first responders’ communication network.

 

A nine person team examined the situation and found the best solution. Although the radio system was a time honored part of the dispatch network, it needed supplemental technology. A CAD system joined the team, accompanied by HipLink notification software. The result was a system that used radio, but did not depend on it. First responders received notifications and information via their cell phones, and not just the station radio. This not only ensured all relevant parties had up to date dispatches, but it also provided a backup in case of radio failure.

 

It didn’t take long for the new system to prove itself. When the radio dispatch system failed, firefighters still received the callout via text. They managed to contain a kitchen fire that might otherwise have grown out of control. Toms River first responders are also getting ahead of emergencies by managing planning with Office of Emergency Management. Now they can interact with commercial cell carriers and it’s easier to warn officials and residents about impending danger. The town’s preparedness for hurricane Irene was a practical demonstration of how well prepared the first responders were.

 

 

First responders don’t have easy jobs, but the right communication software can make their roles easier to manage. With the right planning, they can even get ahead of natural disasters and seasonal increases of water-related accidents.

 

Read the case study HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enhance Clinicians’ Ability to Focus on Direct Patient Care

Grace Hospital in Ohio is commonly known as a high stress and high fatigue environment. Operating as a not-for-profit hospital, within a hospital, Grace handles patients with the most complex and serious cardiac conditions. While they only staff experienced and dedicated individuals, all four hospitals suffered from alarm fatigue, a struggling budget, and strained communication.

 

Alarm Fatigue and its Dangers

 

What is alarm fatigue? This term describes the kind of burnout that affects nurses and clinicians in a high stress environment. Seemingly, every minute of every day, alarms go off in a hospital - given that just about every patient monitoring equipment has an alarm. It often becomes difficult for nurses to differentiate between important, non-emergency alarms, and emergency alarms.

 

HipLink leads the way in providing solutions to this problem. With our technology, alerts are sent to nurses’ smartphones as an alarm goes off. This allows the nurse to immediately see the severity of the alarm and the choice to respond to it. HipLink’s secure messaging system also maintains patient confidentiality, while giving nurses the equipment they need to do their job.

 

High Costs for a Non-Profit

 

Fighting alarm fatigue was based on two main resources of Grace Hospital: cost and manpower. The nursing profession, always in-demand, created a recruiting challenge for Grace Hospital. This was due to its four locations and highly specific work. Given that the hospital is a not-for-profit organization, gathering funding presented a challenge for its less than ideal budget and this affected manpower conditions. Without money to invest in larger technological solutions, the hospital turned to staff members to ease the burden.


The hospital’s solution included setting up a “war room.” From there, clinicians monitored all alerts. When a crisis arose, they directed the nurses to answer it. While this solution was imperfect, it was better than nothing. Unfortunately, it ate into the budget and produced an unnecessary delay in treatment.

 

Now that HipLink and other services presented by AT&T are on the floor, these war rooms aren’t needed. This saves the hospital money by easing staffing problems. Nurses work the floor instead of being on monitoring duty. More gets done and individual patient care goes back to being the main focus.

 

Communication is Critical

 

Grace Hospital now faced the final hurdle of poor communication as the hospital was spread out over four locations. Moreover, each location was housed in a hospital-within-a-hospital. This posed unique challenges to communication. AT&T worked with Grace Hospital to set up a virtual private network that saved them money and supported HipLink messaging.

 

Not-for-profit hospitals like Grace Hospital face mounting obstacles to get the cutting-edge technology that they need. Ohio’s Cleveland area is better served now that Grace Hospital’s four locations are linked. Saving money on monitoring and cutting down on alarm fatigue allows nurses to put their focus back on individual patient care.

 

 

Read our Case Study on Grace Hospital & HipLink HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Effective HIPAA Compliant Solution – Without Compromise

The way healthcare professional’s access data is changing, but security needs to change to meet HIPAA standards. Access to information is critical for physicians and staff as rapid communication and ease of access may determine a patient’s life or death. One of the most popular ways to access patient files is via mobile devices. Unfortunately these devices aren’t always as secure as they should be and the healthcare industry has been the target of staggering amounts of successful cyber attacks over the past few years.

 

The Demand for Mobile

Advancements in efficiency and the pace of work have made mobile devices doctors’ go-to source of information. This includes sensitive patient data, protected under HIPAA. It’s far easier for a doctor to check patient records en route to their hospital room, rather than stop to look up the necessary data on a computer. Affiliates also use mobile devices to send, receive, and even store confidential data. Since mobile apps now read bar codes, including those on medications, patient wristbands, medical charts, etc., the appeal of mobile devices as a universal data tool is overwhelming. It cuts down transcription errors, allows superior access to information, and improves communication between healthcare professionals. While all these make points of communication vastly more effective, they also put the data at risk.

 

The Threat of Cyber Attacks

Healthcare IT departments are facing a crisis. Many physicians use personal phones at work, and even if those phones use intrusive Big Brother software to essentially look over the physician’s shoulder, these devices are usually unsecured. While an IT department helps to strengthen defenses for on-site systems and devices, they have no way of protecting mobile devices that come and go from their purview. Cyber criminals are aware of mobile devices’ lax security, and they have adjusted their targets accordingly. Healthcare has seen millions of dollars of damage in recent years from cyber attacks, and far too many personal files were stolen or exposed. IT departments who wish to restrict personal mobile phone usage have valid concerns, but issuing work phones to all full time, part time, and affiliate employees is beyond impractical. The solution must come from new apps, not from new hardware.

 

The Solution

The solution lies in regulating information by controlling a single app that allows all necessary users to access critical information. Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI) gives healthcare professionals access to patient information from anywhere they can use their mobile devices. However, it also ensures they do not keep that data on vulnerable phones, or leave sensitive information open in unattended apps. The app runs on servers the secure data center, and while the app offers a window to the data, it doesn’t store or even temporarily retain the information viewed.

Healthcare professionals need access to data, and IT departments need to ensure that access doesn’t compromise the security of the data in question. Virtual Mobile Infrastructure solves both problems. Even if a phone is lost or stolen, the data it accessed remains secure. It’s a HIPAA compliant solution that does not compromise the efficiency of medical staff.

 

 

Read more about HipLink’s Secure, HIPAA Compliant App HERE.

 

 

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Why a Wireless Communication Strategy Is Crucial to Crisis Management

In today’s world, organizations encounter many different types of crises.  Natural disasters, workplace violence, technological crises, and financial crises are just some of the unexpected dilemmas that threaten employee safety, company reputation, corporate assets, and financial results.

 

When developing plans to manage a crisis, it is imperative that a communication strategy be incorporated.   In fact, a wireless communication system should be the first thing developed to ensure that in the event of an emergency, the right people are notified at the right time.  Effective communication allows team members to collaborate and respond efficiently. 

 

Alert Notification Solution Requirements

 

In an emergency, the way an organization responds within the first 24 hours has a profound impact on minimizing risks and controlling costs related to the crisis.  Therefore, an effective alert notification system is necessary to notify everyone who needs to be made aware of the situation.  When seeking an effective alert notification solution, it should meet every one of the following requirements:

 

·        -  Accelerated flow of information to correct responders and decision makers

·        -  Works with all carriers and all communication protocols

·        -  Confirm that all units work collaboratively at all locations

·        -  Provide status of resources in real-time

·        -  Integrates seamlessly into existing applications

·        -  It must be scalable to adhere to the needs of the organization

·         - Enable fast responses and remote actions by providing two-way capabilities

 

If a crisis occurs, a communication strategy with an alert notification solution that provides all the above requirements will ensure your organization is prepared for the first 24 hours to maximize the most positive outcome possible.

 

Resolving Wireless Infrastructure Challenges

 

There are many different types of mobile devices, software technologies, and carriers using different protocols.  People will always have different tastes and different devices.  Likewise, different organizations use various types of software.  The vast number of different devices, carriers, and software types in one organization can present a real challenge to an organization’s wireless infrastructure.  The key to solving this is a wireless messaging software system that makes all the devices work together. 

 

HipLink Software provides organizations text and voice messaging capabilities to any mobile device and carrier worldwide.  With the ability to function as a stand-alone messaging system or integrate with virtually any software, HipLink’s wireless messaging software provides a vital component in an organization’s communication strategy in a crisis.

 

Our software is used in many industries including government, healthcare, financial institutions, transportation, manufacturing, and enterprise.  We provide a highly scalable, robust, and secure wireless communications software solution that is designed to meet critical messaging needs.  “HipLink is secure, fast, and loaded with features that will make sure your critical messages are delivered on time, every time,” Pamela LaPine, HipLink CEO and President.

 

For more information about incorporating HipLink software into your organization’s communication strategy, contact us at 1-800-524-7503. 

 

Download eBook HERE.

 

 

 

 

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Improve Alert Response Time and Employee Productivity

 

Imagine you are the CEO of a large financial institution and your organization is losing approximately $1,000 per minute in revenue opportunities and employee productivity.  Your organization has a complex IT infrastructure and must monitor several critical business systems utilizing CRM, network monitoring tools, and custom in-house solutions. You have a room fully staffed with numerous dispatchers to respond to every alert – whether it is from the help desk or there is an emergency that needs handled immediately.  Yet your organization is still losing money in network downtime.  Why?  What is the solution?

 

In your organization, when an alert is received and it is not responding immediately, it jumps to the next operator.  This process continues until the problem has been acknowledged.  If an alert moves through 10 people before being acknowledged, that is one part of the slow alert response time.  When the alert is finally recognized, it must be determined what system the alert is pertaining to, who manages the system, the best way to contact that person, and then make contact to address the problem.  That is a lot of time when responding to an alert. 

 

Even more time is lost when contacting the technician because each has requested to be notified by pager, email, telephone, or a collaboration of all three ways.  This method can take approximately 30 minutes to simply notify and dispatch someone to fix the problem. You need a solution to minimize downtime and the financial liability affiliated with lost revenue and reduced employee productivity. 

 

Improving your notification system by automatically alerting technicians and sending immediate notifications of network oddities to lessen downtime is what HipLink Application Messaging does – and a lot more.  By providing your organization with a complete wireless communication and a rock-hard notification system, your organization will be able to substantially reduce alert response time. Automatic alerts are sent to technicians and they see problems as they occur, not 30 minutes later.  In fact, at one large financial institution, HipLink generates 1.3 million messages annually with each being processed and delivered in less than 30 seconds.  Not only has this reduced amount of downtime, but also has saved the company thousands of dollars per day.

Furthermore, HipLink provides the ability to review detailed notification records.  This helps ensure problems are addressed and resolved in the timeliest manner. 

 

Implementing HipLink Application Messaging can lessen the impact of a problem as well as speed up the resolution of an event.  A robust, highly scalable solution that is very easily integrated with any software application, HipLink Application Messaging offers the following advantages:

 

  • One-Way & Two-Way Messaging with all text and voice wireless receivers
  • Supports all alphanumeric and numeric pagers, wireless devices, cell phones, landline phones, faxes, etc.
  • Supports all wireless carriers and protocols
  • Advanced Message Filtering
  • GUI (Graphical User Interface) Administration

 

Your organization is now saving $28,000 per incident ($1,000 per minute from lost revenue and reduced productivity).  With alerts generated by HipLink, your company could reduce its staffing requirements for monitoring network conditions, consequently saving a lot of money and freeing extra resources. Ensuring the right person receives the right notification via department and grouping features, HipLink offers additional cost savings in paging and texts.

 

Improved alert response time, financial gains, and increased employee productivity is one phone call away.  Call HipLink today at 1-800-524-7503 to get your organization back to gaining time and money.  

 

 


You can read our Large IT Department Case Study HERE

 

 

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Crucial Elements Every University Needs

 

Universities are not immune to emergencies such as fires, weather crises, mass shootings, and infectious disease outbreaks.  The key to combatting these emergencies to the greatest extent possible is preparedness.  Administrators, professors, and students must be prepared for anything to happen at any time. 

 

Looking back at the Virginia Tech mass shooting that occurred on April 16, 2007, the first 911 call came in at 7:15 a.m., notifying police there were at least two shooting victims at West Ambler Johnston Hall.  At 9:26 a.m., an email was sent by the school stating that a shooting took place at West Ambler Johnston Hall earlier that morning. At 9:45 a.m., 911 received a call reporting a second round of shootings in the classrooms at Norris Hall.  At 9:50 a.m., students received an email stating, “Please stay put,” and notifies them that a gunman is loose on the campus.  Then, at 9:55 a.m., university officials sent a third message via email and text messages to students regarding the second shooting.  A total of 32 people were killed that day and 17 were injured by gunshots.  Six others were injured from jumping out of windows to escape. 

 

For this article, the main factors to consider are the times of the shootings and notifications.  Approximately two hours and 15 minutes passed before an email was sent by the school.  Two and one-half hours passed before 911 received another call.  During the time gap in the shootings, it is known that the gunman mailed a package to a news channel.  What else he did in these two hours will probably never be known.  The questions that remain are:  Could the second shootings have been prevented? How?

 

Planning Ahead for Mass Coordination

 

At a university, being prepared for an emergency situation is a complex process; however, for the health and safety of staff and students, it is imperative that plans are established to notify any and all groups within minutes.  Ensuring an immediate, coordinated response is vital to lessening the damage in an emergency. 

 

Implementing a tiered approach of notification for a coordinated response to a variety of emergencies will minimize additional panic and prevent misinformation.  Today, virtually all members of a university, from the staff to the students, have smartphones or pagers.  Utilizing these devices as a component of a coordinated response plan is crucial.

 

Based on years of experience,  HipLink recommends a tiered approach always being sure your response priorities are clear.  By using a combination of wireless notification to cell phones and pagers with notification beacons will ensure universities are using all of their available resources effectively and responsibly.  A brief summary of a tiered approach is as follows:

 

  • Tier 1 – First Responders.  Notifying first responders should be done using the fastest, most reliable text delivery method available.  Universities should also be prepared to send follow-up texts regularly with updates.
  • Tier 2 – Administration, Staff, and Resident Advisors.  These groups need to be quickly notified to inform them there is a situation and activate pre-defined response protocols.
  • Tier 3 – Teachers.  The training and education of teachers can be a very important part of a coordinated response.
  • Tier 4 – Students.  The student body should be notified through beacons as these can be specific to locations.  They also have the ability to send updates as the situation changes.  Using SMS or voice messages to students’ cell phones only results in a complicated university response and burdens responses due to overloaded cellular networks. 

 

HipLink can be used for standard wireless notification from either a desktop computer or with applications such as the university campus IT network.  It can even send alerts from your building management systems and fire safety systems. 

 

HipLink Features and Benefits

 

Providing a robust, secure, highly scalable wireless communications software system,

HipLink works with any data or voice-enabled wireless device.  Connections can also be made through pop-ups on the computer screen as well as messages sent to notification beacons.  All of this is completed from one interface.  Some of the other benefits of HipLink include the following:

 

  • Advanced features for both voice delivery of messages and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) functions
  • A highly-praised intuitive and easy to use desktop interface.  HipLink is a completely browser-based system which means a university has universal access to their notification system at any time, from anywhere there is internet connectivity available.
  • Notifying Students via desktop interface by sending computer pop-ups, digital signage, and notification beacons.
  • HipLink supports all carriers and all devices with no dependence on emails. 
  • Grouping ensures faster message delivery of the correct messages or tasks to the right people at the right time.
  • Built-in failover functionality at the carrier and receiver levels guarantees message delivery even if the primary delivery method should fail.  This is a huge advantage in an emergency.

 

These are just a few of the benefits HipLinkXS provides.  Every university should be prepared and equipped for any emergency at any time.  For more information, contact HipLink at 800-524-7503. 

 

The Answer

 

With today’s technology, the answer is yes – the second round of shootings at Virginia Tech could have possibly been prevented utilizing HipLink to notify all staff members immediately that there was a shooter on campus.  The entire university may have been locked down within minutes and everyone may have been safe.  It is cases such as the Virginia Tech shootings that require universities to implement one of the most advanced, reliable notification software solutions available.

 

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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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Top Five Reasons for BYOD and Mobile Applications

 

Not too long ago, the use of mobile devices inside organizations was a foreign and often heavily debated concept.  The rapid increase of BYOD integrations and Mobile Application Management (MAM) has become an evolving phenomenon with many personal mobile devices present in the work place.

 

BYOD offers the capability to support fewer employee network devices, yet still unleashes productivity amid employees and partners. A successful BYOD implementation leverages the organization’s network and gets the best out of consumer technology.  In combination with cloud-based applications, personal device expansion, and data center reorganization, BYOD and MAM provide an opportunity for organizations to build the best network design with mobility in mind.  Managing BYOD and MAM properly is an integral part of any growth strategy. Organizations that incorporate formal programs and successful training will reap five crucial benefits:

 

An Increase in Employee Productivity

 

People are more comfortable and productive when using their own mobile device.  The functions of an employee’s personal phone or tablet are familiar and can be quickly accessed and utilized.  BYOD also enables employees to stay connected during down time (i.e., evenings, weekends, and commuting). In a healthcare setting, physicians and staff can use Secure Text Messaging (STM) to share clinical information on a patient, omit some of the red tape that comes along with referrals, schedule appointments, and document a patient’s care. 

 

Lower Overhead Costs

 

BYOD eliminates the responsibility of an organization to provide mobile devices to all employees.  Utilizing STM, an organization can send messages securely through message encryption and stay compliant with security standards.  

 

Advanced Business Processes

 

There is no denying that mobile devices have evolved tremendously over the past few years.  Combining MAM and BYOD enables organizations to create new business processes to streamline responsibilities and/or facilitate new functionalities when workers are away from their desks.  With MAM in place, healthcare providers can use their mobile devices anytime from anywhere to do tasks such as document patient encounters, view schedules, view patient charts, and prescribe medications. 

 

Consistency Among Users

 

Multimedia personal devices on a corporate network can restrict the quality of a user’s experience due to the additional capacity required to support them. A mainstream BYOD policy can help IT managers understand the impact of BYOD and improve the infrastructure where necessary to secure a consistent user experience for everyone. 

 

Flexibility

 

Mobile technology continues to advance quickly. An organization investing in the very best of mobile devices will suffer when these devices are obsolete in two or three years.  When employees are forced to use outdated devices, productivity suffers.  Employees are people that consistently upgrade to the latest technologically advanced mobile devices. With BYOD and MAM incorporated, an organization leverages employees bringing necessary devices in order to adapt to new technologies.

 

Solutions

 

There are many more advantages of Mobile Application Management. By using HipLink for MAM, organizations see faster deployment, shorter learning curves, and increased Return on Investment (ROI) for communication solutions.

 

The HipLink Mobile Application provides the following features:

 

  •          Text Message App Overview
  •          Designed for Apple or Android and smartphones and tablets
  •          Supports Wi-Fi or Cellular Data connections
  •          HIPAA compliant encrypted text messages
  •          CJIS compliant encrypted text messages
  •         Alternative to SMS messaging
  •          Includes notification to desktops via pop-up alerts
  •          Audit trail to track delivery and read receipts

 

Additionally, HipLink Mobile has a suite of mobile application options that provide maximum flexibility and leverage optimum use of smartphones and tablets. Using HipLink Mobile, users have access to a priority view of important alerts, receiving fully-secure text messages, sending secure messages, and executing actions remotely.

 

Hiplink's proprietary protocol operates over TCP live connections so that text messages are sent completely independent of cellular SMS. The applications provide advanced messaging features for encrypted text messages, the ability to override phone settings for emergency messages, and one-click responses. Combined with the secure and easy to manage HipLink Platform, HipLink Mobile improves overall communication throughout the organization, regardless of location.

 

To learn more about BYOD and MAM, visit HipLink or call 1-800-524-7503 to learn more and to request a demo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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