Healthcare organizations can save a considerable amount of time by considering eight things to look for when evaluating mass notification systems for healthcare to help eliminate systems that won't work. Thereafter, organizations should take advantage of free trial opportunities in order to evaluate the systems in their own environments.
Mass notification systems for healthcare have come a long way since the early box-like pagers of the 1950s. Due to the desire to make healthcare communications more efficient - and in recent years, more compliant - mass notification systems for healthcare have evolved into communication super-systems that can be used to send alerts to employees, liaise with emergency managers during a disaster, streamline internal communications, enhance patient care, and support healthcare marketing efforts.
However, not all mass notification systems for healthcare are equally as efficient - or compliant - as others. In this blog post, we suggest eight things to look for when evaluating mass notification systems for healthcare that will save organizations time evaluating unsuitable systems, and that may include some uses of the systems that have not been previously considered.
#1 - Ease of Use for Everyone
Not everybody is comfortable with modern technology; and, in the context of mass notification systems for healthcare, attempting to use a “communications super-system” during a stressful emergency situation may be too much for some people. Therefore, whatever system is chosen, it must be easily understandable for both administrators and end-users - ideally with the vendor providing on-site training and remote support around the clock.
#2 - Multiple Channels of Communication
One of the faults with pagers is that only a limited number of characters are allowed per message. This can create problems when healthcare organizations need to communicate detailed instructions, and why it is better to evaluate mass notification systems for healthcare that support both short-form messaging (i.e. SMS) and long-form messaging (i.e. email). Furthermore, the more channels of communication the system supports, the higher the likelihood of an emergency alert being received.
#3 - Integration with Existing Communication Systems
In many circumstances, healthcare organizations have invested in partial communication systems (i.e. digital signage) to improve messaging efficiency in their facilities. Evaluating mass notification systems for healthcare that integrate with existing systems can enhance the efficiency of existing systems and help healthcare organizations become more compliant with legislation such as the American with Disabilities Act and the NFPA Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.
#4 - Compliance with CMS' Emergency Preparedness Rule
One of the Emergency Preparedness Rule's four core elements is to develop a communications plan that will enable healthcare organizations to communicate with employees, patients, physicians, state and local public health departments, and emergency management agencies during an emergency. Consequently, whichever system is implemented, it has to be capable of working during all types of extreme weather events and the consequences of power or network outages.
#5 - Distributed Recipient Mass Notification
Mass notification systems for healthcare with distributed recipient mass notification capabilities are simply systems that enable databases to be segmented into groups according to users' roles, locations, or other attributes. Database segmentation is essential for preventing sensitive emergency communications from being shared with the whole database. In non-emergency situations, database segmentation also enhances internal communications.
#6 - SMS Opt-In/Opt-Out
Usually, mass notification systems for healthcare are populated by integrating the system with existing databases of contacts, employees, and patients. Having an additional SMS opt-in/opt-out facility enables visitors, temporary staff, and the families of patients to opt into the system in order to receive alerts, updates, and other important messages. This facility works in a similar way to retail SMS marketing and has no additional management overhead for administrators.
#7 - Geo-Polling
Geo-polling is a recent development in mass notification systems for healthcare. It is a simple function that sends a question to a targeted group or subgroup of the database with a choice of administrator-defined answers. The feature can be used to check on the wellbeing of employees during an emergency, the availability of employees for extra shifts after an emergency, or to stock-take by business unit at any time. Be sure to ask for a demo of this feature.
#8 - An End-User Administration Portal
An end-user administration portal - which can be used to select non-emergency communication preferences - may seem like a non-essential extra, but it can help alleviate alert fatigue in busy hospital departments. By allowing medical staff to select how they receive non-emergency communications, the number of messages being delivered by SMS is reduced, so when an emergency occurs - and an alert is sent by SMS - it is more likely to be recognized as an important message that needs reading.
Looking for Mass Notification Systems for Healthcare?
Some mass notification systems for healthcare enable system administrators to send unlimited messages simultaneously to unlimited recipients with three clicks of a mouse - or three taps of a screen - from any Internet-connected device. One easy-to-use mass notification system supports all the features mentioned above, plus is supported by on-site training, a web-based resource center, and around-the-clock support.
A comprehensive mass notification system integrates with management, EHR, and HR databases, and synchronizes data frequently to ensure its contact list is always up-to-date. As a FEMA Certified IPAWS Alert Origination Service Provider, severe weather warnings are automatically forwarded to users, who can receive them on any type of mobile device. There is no need to download an app to receive messages, engage in two-way conversations, or respond to geo-poll requests.
Each healthcare organization implementing a mass notification system can access a branded end-user administration portal. Databases can be segmented into an unlimited number of groups and sub-groups via the portal, while temporary contacts can be assigned to specific groups by texting unique keywords to a designated short code number. Rave Alert's mass notification systems for healthcare also includes a robust reporting dashboard for administrators to view detailed “by recipient” reports. Try it for yourself today!
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