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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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