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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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