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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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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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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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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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Transforming Healthcare with Mobile Health Technology

 

Mobile health technology is transforming the entire healthcare system. The combination of innovative data analytics and mobile technologies are simplifying the methods used by healthcare professionals from the patient care experience to healthcare administration.

 

Healthcare providers faced obstacles with mobile health technology lacking essential protective measures as they relate to shared patient information, ensuring conformity of mobile devices with EMRs, and concluding which apps were the safest and most effective.  Today, the efficacy of mobile health technology has proven successful.  With access to a fully optimized, real-time, reliable mobile health app, healthcare providers have immediate access to vital information and the ability to share it with other pertinent team members. 

 

The Future Is Now

 

The 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Study consisted of 238 respondents who suggested that healthcare organizations are widely beginning to deploy mobile technologies with the aim of engaging patients within their organizations. Importantly, many of the respondents cited a need to fully optimize and leverage the diverse capabilities offered by mobile technology and platforms.  For example, almost 90% of respondents reported maintaining mobile devices to engage patients at their organizations. In addition, 47% of respondents indicated that implementing mobile services for access to information is a high priority in the future.

 

The prevalence of mobile technology in the health care industry is rapidly increasing as programs and applications for smartphones and tablets have progressively advanced. Mobile health technology (commonly referred to as mHealth) possesses the capability to improve patient care and boost efficiency of the staff and procedures.

 

In order to successfully incorporate mobile health technology into an organization, healthcare administrators must ensure that the app meets certain criteria:

 

1.    Does it offer timely and immediate access to information, whenever and wherever?

2.    Is it able to perform multiple tasks efficiently without having to switch from app-to-app?

3.    Is it organized to provide current, accurate, unbiased, relevant, and essential content during moments of care?

4.    Does it allow healthcare providers to receive and review the information they need, when and how they need it?

5.    Does it seamlessly connect with EMR (or EHR)?

6.    Does it help healthcare providers be more productive in and out of the office?

 

By using a mobile device to input data and update patient charts, a healthcare provider is able to spend more time with the patient and less time on the computer. 

 

Secure Text Messaging

 

Secure Text Message (STM) is used for securely sending and receiving texts and picture messages with an assortment of other mobile devices and workstations in a HIPAA-compliant manner.  Secure text messages are encrypted while being transmitted to meet the protection requirements PHI (Patient Health Information). 

 

By implementing an STM app, a healthcare team can communicate with colleagues in real time to rapidly address the needs of a patient.  Speeding up the process of ordering tests, lab results, and medications, affords the healthcare provider more time for more patients. 

 

HipLink offers an outstanding secure text messaging platform that works in real-time on Apple or Android phones.  The user can send secure text messages, encrypted for HIPAA compliance for both messages and attachments from a desktop computer and directly from the phone. HipLink Mobile provides a highly reliable and secure text messaging system.  Even if a user is not logged in, HipLink will alert the user and give them the option to login quickly. The sender will know the status of the message in all cases, whether it is pending, delivered, when it is read, and any responses – either phone-to-phone or desktop-to-phone.

 

By using Transport Layer Security (TLS), HipLink ensures the confidentiality of messages at the highest level of HIPAA compliance.  A very distinct feature HipLink has developed is a “single session” handshake process.  With this method, the TLS encryption key is constantly changing for each and every communications session between the HipLink server and the device.  This makes cracking the encryption virtually impossible as the key is constantly regenerating with each communication. 

 

Additional Features

 

HipLink also offers several other standard and advanced features with the Secure Text Messaging app.  Some of these features include:

 

  • Use message templates to promptly compose new messages and spend less time typing
  • Control your status by toggling between the “available” and “not available” mode
  • Quickly silence or mute all pre-defined alert setting for all severities to vibrate
  • Attach location coordinates
  • Execute pre-programmed custom commands and templates
  • Full administration and management controls
  • Draft messages, set Favorites, define alert tones
  • Streamlined workflows offer efficient functionality for all tasks

 

 

By incorporating HipLink mobile health technology into a healthcare organization, not only does the organization operate more effectively and efficiently, the satisfaction, engagement, and care of patients is vastly improved.  For more information about our mobile health technology including HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging, visit HipLink or call 1-800-524-7503.  

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The Joint Commission’s New Position on Patient Care through Text Messaging

 

 

On April 29th, 2016, the Joint Commission announced its new position on patient care through text messaging. This is a tremendous step forward in healthcare communication and will improve many aspects of patient care. At this time, physicians or licensed independent practitioners are able to text orders for patient care, treatment, services to the hospital, or other health care settings if they are using a secure text messaging platform.

 

The initial stance was that text messaging was not considered safe enough to use in healthcare settings due to unsecured text messages being transmitted via personal mobile phones. Additionally, the validation of information was difficult to obtain, as was the identity of the person sending the messages. The technology was simply not considered adequate to support a safe and secure use of text messaging for orders.

 

Times have changed however and there has been an incredible increase in secure text messaging platforms that address many of the concerns that the Joint Commission faced in the past.

 

The Joint Commission fully supports secure text messaging as long as the following is implemented:

 

·         A secure sign-on process

·         Messages have to be encrypted

·         Delivery and read receipts need to be incorporated

·         All orders have to be date and time stamped

·         Customized message retention time frames

·         Specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders

 

Furthermore, hospitals and other accredited organizations that plan to incorporate text orders must develop a verification process documenting the capabilities of their secure text messaging platform and define when text orders are either appropriate or not appropriate. They must also monitor how frequently text messaging orders are being used and assess the compliance with texting policies and procedures. In addition, they have to develop risk-management strategies, perform risk assessments, and conduct training for staff and licensed independent practitioners.

 

Although the topic is on texting orders, the Joint Commission expects that all forms of texting, including patient updates or other patient information is also used within secure text messaging platforms. They also noted that all accredited organizations must have policies that document text messages in an electronic health record- either electronically or manually.

 

By implementing HIPAA-compliant and secure text messaging, a healthcare team can connect with colleagues in real time and address patients’ needs quicker. They can order lab results, medications, or X-Rays, allowing the healthcare team to see more patients. A pharmacy may be able to receive text orders directly based on test results. The efficiently this can bring if implemented safely and securely can mean a great deal for patient satisfaction and help decrease staff burnout. 

 

HipLink® Mobile meets all of the requirements set forth by the Joint Commission and was developed to alleviate some of the communication challenges in the healthcare environment. Our HIPAA compliant, encrypted mobile application makes it incredibly easy to send full patient details and coordinate proper patient care. This can dramatically improve workflow and enable fast and accurate communication with ease. The physician or nurse can send secure text messages and attachments from a desktop and directly from the phone.  It's like a HIPAA compliant chat application.

 

With HipLink Mobile, the healthcare team is connected to the server in real-time and able to transmit reliable and fast messages. When one of the healthcare team members is not logged in, HipLink will automatically alert them to re-log in. The sender will always know the exact status of their messages, whether pending or delivered, and when they are read, along with any response, whether it is phone-to-phone or from the desktop to phone.

 

In addition to client applications, there are several features for Remote Device Management from the HipLink administrative interface that is built in the HipLink Mobile Application. An administrator can take action to disable access, delete data and enforce General Policy for all of their Users.

 

 

To read more about HipLink®’s, HIPAA compliant, encrypted mobile application, please click here

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Secure, Reliable Messaging and Ransomware

How do you keep your communication flow during a cyber attack? The recent cyber attacks in hospitals are raising many questions about safety and security within many organizations.

CNN just recently reported that Ransomware is growing and that the FBI received 2,453 complaints about Ransomware hold-ups last year, costing the victims more than $24 million dollars”. CSO Online reported that incident response teams are dealing with 3-4 Ransomware incidents weekly. They also report that ransom requests have increased considerably and that in many cases the cost of recovery is so extreme that the only valid option is to consider payment.

Criminals sneak in through various techniques such as “man in the middle” attacks, lock the system and demand a ransom to unlock it. They rely on Bitcoins (XBT) since those are difficult to trace to actual people. Many of these hackers have offshore accounts and the chances of actually getting your money back or catching someone a world away” is highly unlikely.

At HipLink we feel that the best solution is to minimize your attack surface and implement a communications platform with the ability to manage and secure your communications from end-to-end should one take place.  Our focus is to provide our customers with a complete solution for managing these requirements. Our business model has always been to build a strong communications hub with several layers of redundancy to minimize a central point of failure or compromise. This means that we do not put all of our eggs into one basket. We look at the big picture and we understand that implementation needs to be dynamic and offer seamless alternate ways to notify staff using automated intelligence.

Many of HipLink’s customers have remote and on-premise servers that communicate with HipLink and act as a back-up communication platform in case of an emergency that may compromise any of the mission critical systems running each day. HipLink’s ability to accommodate strategic communication pathways on behalf of both employees and infrastructure separate our systems from others, making them popular in many of the world’s most advanced data centers.

Our flexibility within a wide range of verticals allows us to place ourselves in a unique position that accommodates a broad range of communication requirements. This position not only improves daily workflow efficiency but can help save critical data and in many environments, lives.

   

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  • Wendy H.
    Wendy H. says #
    Great blog- thanks for posting. Really enjoyed reading it.
HipLink Wins Large Hospital Group in Competitive Runoff


When Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) created its secure communications strategy, the leaders of the national, nonprofit health system knew they needed a comprehensive technology solution. They also knew it would be a challenge to find that solution. In HipLink, CHI found a partner that could take on that challenge and help it realize the benefits of cutting-edge mobile health communications.

CHI is a national nonprofit health system with headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. CHI operates in 17 states and includes 86 hospitals and 40 long-term care facilities. With total annual revenues of more than $10.7 billion and approximately 83,000 employees, CHI ranks as the nation’s second-largest faith-based health system.

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