The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Major Hospitals Turn to Mobile Technology

 

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Some of the largest hospitals in the United States are turning to mobile technology as a primary means of communication. These big healthcare facilities are already using mobile health apps and other tech platforms, or they’re planning on it, says a survey put out recently by mHealth consulting firm, Spyglass Consulting Group.

The group surveyed 19 major hospitals in the U.S. and found that 63 percent of them had an mHealth communications platform in place that would support at minimum 500 web-enabled devices, or that they had intentions of employing such a platform in the next 12 to 18 months. The reach for each would be at least 500 mobile devices and smartphones, but some could connect with more than 5,000 devices.

 

For Doctors and Patients

Hospital mHealth strategies and plans put doctors, and patients, in communication with one another through mobile technology. Gregg Malkary, Spyglass founder and managing director, says that mobile devices like smartphones are now replacing desktop computers, landline phones, and pagers as a preferred means of communicating and accessing patient data. The mHealth apps and technology allow for retrieval of important information, and response to pressing matters, from any location at nearly any time. 

 

All Hospital Departments Are On Board

With the integration of mHealth mobile technology into a hospital’s day-to-day routine, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, financial personnel, information technology professions, and ancillary care workers are all able to come on board to best support the care of patients. Patients today are looking at their healthcare options as they would any other choices in any other industry. They’re checking out what hospitals offer and assessing which ones will ultimately make their care easiest. This means they’re often choosing to get treatment done at hospitals that communicate seamlessly between departments, which is where mobile health technology can come in.

 

Security and Reliability

Of course, having access to easy communication and patient data retrieval is not all that’s required when implementing a mobile health technology system. Security and system reliability are crucial. At the 19 big hospitals surveyed, patients and doctors are finding that these needs are being met across the board, throughout the hospital’s departments. From radiology to housekeeping, different professionals at the facilities have their needs met with the current mHealth platforms.

Spyglass also reported that 83 percent of people surveyed said they required a mobile health communication platform that was comprehensive in scope, meaning it worked for them inside of the hospital and out. Seventy-eight percent thought that, for any mHealth platform to succeed, it would need to have a tightly integrated IT infrastructure and be available on a large scale. Out of all the respondents, 50 percent said that the existing tools available to them offer limited options for reporting and analyzing data. 

Malkary stressed that all of the U.S. health provider organizations reported that any smartphone communication system considered would need to be highly reliable, easily manageable, scalable, and support the critical mission of patient communication.

Staying HIPAA Compliant Under the New Mobile Guidelines

 

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Text messaging has become a way of life and a primary means of communication, which means that even our doctors are sending us texts regarding prescriptions and other matters concerning our health care. For many, this type of communication is well received and easy to engage in. But with the new convenience comes the need to make sure that mobile messaging is Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant.

Text Messaging and Healthcare Requires Extra Precautions

The Pew Research Center says that almost two thirds of people in the United States own smartphones, which means there’s a good chance that patients and doctors are used to communicating via text messaging. Both of these groups likely feel comfortable exchanging SMS messages in the course of discussing patient orders and treatment. But in a healthcare setting, SMS service takes on extreme importance. 

The Joint Commission recently said it’s acceptable to use text messaging to submit patient orders, within certain parameters, but it cautions that critical steps are needed to remain HIPAA compliant. Firstly, it says that in order for text messaging regarding health to be compliant, people must be happy with the service. According to Al Villarin, MD – a CMIO at IT consulting firm Burwood Group – compliance begins with a contract between the clinical and the technical. To remain compliant, any healthcare tool must fit easily into an existing workflow and be well received by everyone in the loop.

Burwood Group executive director Tim Needham, who oversees healthcare solutions delivery practice, agrees and says that new communications systems succeed only if they can involve the entirely of the participants. Physicians, therefore, must only use technology – in this case SMS services – if they deliver value and are efficient. Otherwise, healthcare practitioners and patients will revert back to the default methods that they know.

 

Careful Consideration of Text Messaging Services Is needed

To remain compliant, it’s important that healthcare facilities and professionals carefully screen potential SMS services to make sure they offer secure communication systems and ease of use. Thankfully, most vendors in this area have focused on security and ease – and therefore HIPAA compliance – for the last few years. They’ve developed tools that seem to be well adopted across departments. Still, finding those sms services that the entire industry takes hold of is another story. This has been difficult; the potential is there to make healthcare communications more organized for all professionals and patients.

As part of the HIPAA compliance evaluation process, it’s imperative that each hospital and physician’s office take the time to analyze the effectiveness of its mobile communications – and then make necessary adjustments if needed. A tool is only as good as its ability to serve the people, and compliance is most likely found when it can be proven that all parties feel satisfied with the service used.

SMS Can Help Smokers Kick the Habit

 

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Data collected from multiple recent studies show that SMS messages can help smokers kick their habits. Research focused on smokers receiving encouraging messages like “Be strong” and “You can do it!” revealed that these text interventions are helpful in getting smokers to abstain.

The researchers behind the study used meta analysis, a technique that combines findings from many independent studies, to arrive at their conclusion. The scientific team analyzed 20 manuscripts that documented 22 SMS messaging interventions dealing with curbing smoking in 20 countries. It sought out information about how mHealth text messaging – with a specific health issue in mind – could directly impact decisions made by individuals that could positively impact their states of wellness.

 

mHealth Via SMS Service to Meet People Where They Are

Receiving a personalized message regarding a health issue might be what it takes to get an individual to finally make the connection that choices are contributing to sickness. This is the focus of the mHealth text messages that are delivered straight to those who have agreed to participate in the trial. The SMS messages are short, direct, and supportive comments that remind receives about poor health choices and offer education. They’re messages a friend might send, and more.

The SMS interventions ideally will be adapted to suit the participants’ lives and natural environments. They’ll be on-point, regularly scheduled, convenient reminders to take immediate action toward smoking cessation (and hopefully other bad lifestyle choices in the future).

 

More Research and Trials are Needed

 

The study’s lead researcher, Lori Scott-Sheldon from Brown University, says that the evidence revealed in the trials provides inarguable support for the effectiveness of SMS messaging interventions. She offers that these messages have absolutely reduced smoking behavior, but more research is necessary to understand exactly how the interventions work, why they work, and under what conditions they’re most effective.

The Journal of Medical Internet Research published the study. Scott-Sheldon added that tobacco use is a preventable health issue and one of the leading preventable concerns. This is why, she purports, text messaging shows such promise. The SMS services are low cost, they’re able to reach a wide audience, and they don’t take many resources to implement. The mHealth messages, Sheldon-Scott says, should be a “public health priority” so that smokers can get the intervention they desperately need. 

Since SMS messaging has reached near-market saturation, it makes sense that the technology be used as an easy, cost-effective, and direct means to get health information out to the public – and to hopefully influence individuals in a way that creates immediate positive changes in their lifestyles. 

There are not many groups in the United States, or in the world, who do not have access to text messaging, and therefore the potential for an SMS service like the stop-smoking texts is great. A senior research scientist at The Mirian Hospitals Centres for Behavioural and Preventative Medicine, Beth Bock says that widespread availability of a good stop-smoking program can make a powerful statement – and impact – on public health.

'Marcher' Malware Targeting European Bank Customers

 

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Android mobile device users in the UK have a serious potential problem to deal with. A destructive piece of malware that steals banking usernames and passwords, called “Marcher” malware, is targeting their private information.

“Marcher” has been ripping off Android users’ logins since 2013, when the cyber fraud program entered the underground forums for Russian speakers. In the beginning, the malware only went after credit card info by overlaying a phony screen on the Google Play store, which asked for credit card numbers, expiration dates, and codes from users. Then it targeted large banks and financial services, focusing on companies in Germany.

The evolution of Marcher now threatens those who bank with financial companies in Germany, the UK, France, Austria, Turkey, and Australia. Marcher only attacks Android devices; there are no reports of an iOS Marcher malware version.

 

Specific Targets Within the Android Market

Android users who have the popular KitKat, Jelly Bean, and Lollipop versions installed on their mobile devices are among those hardest hit with the Marcher malware infection, according to Check Point security company researchers. These users have frequently been receiving phishing emails that purport to be a Flash update. After users click the links in their emails, which they think will let them upgrade their OS and safeguard their devices against identity theft and data loss, Marcher’s process of devastation starts.

The three-step road to havoc involves deception and trickery, as users are coaxed into enabling the installation of the malicious app (outside of the Google Play store) and installing it, which leads to the fake overlay screens popping up on bank apps to gather personal information. These overlays are made to look like necessary components of users’ approved banking applications. Check Point says that they’re easy to create and often programmed by individuals that the original malware operators have outsourced.

 

Banking Apps Are the Target, But Not the Only Victim

About 88 percent of the apps that Marcher targets are banking applications, but this malware also goes after airline, ecommerce, and payment system apps. The primary goal of the malware is to steal login information, which allows easy access to personal information, funds, and more.

IBM says that Marcher’s capabilities turn users’ mobile devices into tools that can harvest authentication elements and credentials whenever the criminals’ needs arise. When a mobile phone or tablet becomes infected with Marcher, those who control the malware can continue to send text messages encouraging users to go to their mobile banking apps and give up private details. This is often done by sending an SMS message that claims money has deposited into a user’s account. 

IBM states that users are typically curious, and that they follow up on the SMS message by checking their accounts right away for the unexpected transfers. Unfortunately, the fake overlay is waiting for them, and it steals their banking credentials. This is possible because the Trojan hijacks the text message, and it fetches for overlays that match a long list of banking apps that the user might have on his or her device. 

These deceptions are just a couple of the ways that Marcher is creating mayhem for Android users. As is true with other malware programs, a crucial way to avoid the devastation is to carefully monitor the SMS messages that arrive on your mobile devices. IBM suggests that Android users not follow any URLs from text messages or emails that offer unexpected perks, bonuses, problems, or tools. It’s best to treat these messages with extreme caution, and to delete them immediately and follow up on issues of concern by phone or on a separate device.

Text Ban Lifted by Joint Commission

 

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The Joint Commission - the largest healthcare accreditation body in the United States - announced last month that it will start allowing physicians to make patient orders by text message. The move is a huge victory for MHealth advocates. 

The news was happily received by healthcare providers, who see text messaging as the most efficient and reliable method of communication, and mobile technology developers who can access a potentially huge new market. For both groups, this feels like a long-overdue update to regulations that have hobbled natural progress towards emergent technologies that will ultimately benefit patients.

The changes were made in response to a 2011 FAQ document issued by the Joint Commission, which stated that text message orders were prohibited due to security concerns. In a dramatic reversal of that position, it now says text messaging is permissible within certain parameters.

 

What are the Parameters?

Changes to the regulations reflect a shifting culture in which SMS is the communication platform that most people feel comfortable using. But it’s not open season; the new guidelines don’t simply allow clinicians to send text messages to anyone as part of their job. The Joint Commission has provided a number of specific requirements for organizations using SMS:

 

  • Encrypted messaging
  • A secure registration process
  • Delivery and read receipts
  • Date and time stamps
  • A specified contact list of people authorized to receive and record orders
  • Customized policies and procedures

 

The Joint Commission also recommends that healthcare providers closely track and document the capabilities, limitations and uptake of their SMS platform, and develop a risk-management strategy. 

 

Why Now?

Doctors - like everyone else - have come to rely on smartphones as a tool for optimizing their time and improving communication. Unlike everyone else, the information they need to share is sensitive and highly personal; security is paramount. The healthcare industry is subject to strict regulations, and any new legislation takes a long time to draft, pass and enact. The legal process moves - necessarily - as slowly as it ever has, but technology changes at an ever-increasing rate (subject only to Moore’s Law). This developmental dissonance means there is a significant lag between technology becoming available to consumers, and being ready for use by industries dealing with their private data.

Thankfully, mobile communication legislation is beginning to reflect the realities of the modern world - and this can only be a positive thing for the healthcare industry and all who rely on it.

Why Millennials Are So Keen on Text

 

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Today’s young adults aren’t letting go of their phones so much as letting go of the idea of talking on their phones. That’s the growing takeaway from many recent reports that suggest millennials believe texting is more efficient than talking.

 

Multiple Studies Show Gen Y Prefers Texts

New data from the OpenMarket revealed that 76 percent of millennials would rather lose calling options than texting, and that texts are “more convenient” to their lifestyles. 

When it comes to business purposes, most millennials find that receiving texted reminder for payments, appointments, and special promotions is “helpful.”

A poll by Gallup also confirmed that text messaging outranks phone calls as the dominant form of communication among millennials, with 68 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds saying they texted “a lot” the previous day. In the last couple of years, monthly texting among this age group has more than doubled.

 

Why Millennials Are Choosing Texts

So, why are millennials so keen on text messaging? Here are six reasons why millennials won’t pick up the phone.

 

Call Are Presumptuous

One reason is that many see phone calls as overly intrusive or even presumptuous. Phone calls presume that a person needs to drop everything to adhere to another’s agenda. Texting, like email, is a passive form of communication that doesn’t require real-time interaction.

 

Situation Dictates Communication Style

Young adults choose texting as their everyday form of communication. If something exciting happens, such as a wedding or vacation, millennials decide to share that special occasion via Snap Chat or Instagram. But if the subject is serious enough, they will surely pick up the phone.

 

Text Threads Are Like Conversation

Today’s smartphones utilize a system of texts that plays out like normal face-to-face conversations. The folks who talk a lot also text in longer threads. The people who are succinct don’t. If you’re a chatterbox in real life, your phone doesn’t have to slow you down.

 

No Need for Privacy

With social media being such a huge aspect of their world, millennials don’t really care about privacy. In fact, many of them will take part in large group texts to get more input, so even the idea of 1:1 privacy has become an archaic concept. 

 

Planning

While on the topic of group texts, note that millennials use group texting to make plans with friends. It’s convenient and also quick.

 

Superfluous

Phone calls require a lot of airtime and beating around the bush to get to the point of the message. Texting requires individuals to put thoughts into words, enabling them to share only the essential details and get straight to the point.

 

Reaching Millennials With Text Marketing

If you want to tap into the major market of millennials, you’re going to have to utilize text marketing. Thankfully, our professional marketing team at EZ Texting can provide you with the necessary tools and tips to properly engage these young consumers.

Contact us today by calling (800) 753-5732 to learn more.

The Mobile Wallet Is More Critical to the Future of Retail Than Apps

 

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In recent years and months, mobile payment systems such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, have been ramping up, giving merchants ample choices. The consumer demand for mobile wallets is on the rise, and for good reason.

For merchants of all types, from small mom-and-pop stores to Fortune 500 companies, mobile wallets can boost revenue and reduce operating costs substantially. 

Here are five reasons why the mobile wallet is more crucial to the future of retail than apps.

Ability to Reduce Costs

Retailers and food service operators can enjoy the benefit of reduced costs by using mobile wallets. This is because they can drastically lower fraud loss and/or payment processing fees, the latter of which merchants often cite as one of the largest expenses after labor.

With apps, there is still a huge risk to hackers getting into the system and obtaining critical customer info, such as their addresses, bank accounts, and credit card numbers.

More Sales and Increased Revenues

Mobile wallets have the ability to move more consumers through the line quicker, driving up revenues for merchants. If a business has the ability to leverage a mobile wallet to engage and connect with costumers, it can sell more products and services during slower periods by enabling customers to check out anywhere at anytime, or enticing them with exclusive discounts and coupons.

While apps allow retailers to connect with consumers and offer them promos, buyers do not have the ability to purchase items as easily as they would if they were using a mobile wallet.

Catering to the Anywhere, Anytime Customer

More people are performing their daily errands online, creating significant opportunities for retailers to be invited into a consumer’s mobile world. If a retailer creates a rich interactive experience for the mobile-enabled consumer, it allows customers to purchase items both in store and via internet-based mobile purchasing opportunities.

Simplification

With mobile wallets, users enter their information once and then receive PIN numbers through text messages, which are used to complete the purchase. Shoppers only need to enter their PINs to complete the transaction, saving them the time and hassle of re-entering all of their information again for future transactions, as some apps require.

Rich Marketing Platforms

A report recently released by Forrester Research suggested that mobile wallets are set to become an essential marketing platform within the next five years. Mobile loyalty is important for connecting with consumers, and brands should mobilize their loyalty programs and branded content to offer promos to consumers in real time.

Mobile wallets are imperative for brands hoping to use mobile technology to reach consumers. If your retail business wants to enjoy the many benefits of mobile wallets and text messages, contact EZ Texting today. We look forward to hearing from you.

How Mobile Technology Is Boosting Productivity

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We live in a fast-paced, mobile-centric world. This is why many big-name brands are turning their attention to mobile technology to reach consumers. But as customer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce, businesses are now utilizing the benefits of these technologies to their advantages. One study in the UK shows that providing mobile apps to workers can boost productivity by 34 percent. The drive in mobility is a key player in the business tech agenda, as more companies are recognizing its value.

Here are a few ways mobile technology is boosting productivity. 

Communication is Key

Like every good business professional knows, communication is a critical part of the success of a company. The integration of mobile devices, such as smartphones and laptops, makes it easier for workers to collaborate and for companies to communicate and connect with staff, vendors and consumers. 

Real-time communication has huge customer service benefits. Responding to consumers in a prompt fashion, offering a greater range of products and services, making product information available to customers, and improving turnaround and service all equate to better business profits, as Air Canada found when it replaced paper processes with interactive mobile devices for ground staff.

Workers benefit, too. From interacting with colleagues while traveling to attending an office meeting from 1,000 miles away, mobile business keeps the lines of communication constantly open. 

Mobile Marketing

Customers now have 24/7 access to their favorite brands via mobile technology. Companies are realizing the value of advertising to on-the-go consumers and now offer advertising and marketing through SMS (text) messaging, banner ads, mobile apps, mobile websites, QR codes, and more. 

Not only can these campaigns be customized to reach a more targeted audience due to software that “reads” the websites and sees what people are seeking on their mobile devices, but it is also helping businesses reach customers from anywhere at any time.

Cloud Commuting

This technology lets companies store data or applications on a remote server that can be accessed by authorized personnel. Employees can then create, view, and share this information to facilitate a variety of tasks, such as banking, virtual meetings, and file sharing. If a company has telecommuting workers, such as employees on maternity leave or vacation, these individuals can have quick and easy access to info that allows them to work from anywhere.

Cost Reductions

The infrastructure to support a mobile workforce is more affordable than equipping a physical office with desktops, servers, printers, and faxes. Allowing workers to have access to training materials, company info, and more can save them (and your business) money on travel, instructors, accommodations, rented office space, and more.

Mobile technology is proven to boost business productivity through connection, cost reduction, and creative mobile marketing. If you want to take advantage of mobile marketing and technology, contact our company today to learn more.