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June 25, 2016

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.

June 24, 2016

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.

June 23, 2016

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.

June 17, 2016

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.

June 16, 2016

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.

June 14, 2016

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. 

June 08, 2016

How mHealth Tech Is Helping Stroke Recovery

 

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Each year, nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke—an attack on the brain caused by a loss of blood flow, which can result in disabilities such as memory loss, speech impairment, and limited mobility.  

During a stroke, brain cells lose the blood flow they need to stay alive. When brain cells die, it can cause permanent disability, depending on how serious the stoke was and in what area of the brain blood loss occurred. 

More than two-thirds of stroke survivors will experience some type of disability. For patients recovering from a stroke, therapy is one way to improve the cognitive functions that are often disabled after a serious attack. 

 

Mobile Tech Improves Stroke Recovery 

In a recent study conducted by Constant Therapy, researchers found that stroke survivors who engaged in at-home therapy featuring customized brain rehabilitation software, like an app, increased their cognitive, speech accuracy, and processing speed during recovery. 

Each stroke is different, and each survivor will need different therapy to reconstruct or reconfigure the areas of the brain that suffered damage during the stroke. Constant Therapy has designed an app that allows doctors and caregivers to customize the treatment plan to focus on the different brain areas that control specific brain functions. 

The company analyzed 20 million therapy exercises, as well as 100 million data points. Combining this big data with a mobile platform will continue to improve the customization capabilities of the mHealth program. 

“The more data we collect, the better our algorithms become,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of Constant Therapy.

Plus, having the therapy available in an app, and for various mobile devices, allows patients to maintain therapy programs at home, not just while they’re in the hospital. 

Stoke survivors that incorporated at-home therapies, like Constant Therapy’s app, received 5 times more therapy than those only receiving therapy at a clinic. 

The more survivors engage with the app, the faster and more thorough their recovery. Processing speed in language and cognitive exercise increased more than 80 percent for patients who completed more than 500 experiences on the mHealth app. 

 

mHealth to the Recue 

Commonly referred to as mHealth, mobile technology affords both providers and patients more control over their wellness plans, before and after a catastrophic event like a stroke, heart attack, or other serious medical emergency. 

In fact, it’s estimated that the mHealth solutions market will be worth nearly $60 billion by 2020. This includes an explosion of growth in a number of mobile services focused on monitoring, managing, diagnosing, and recovery therapies for patients and providers. 

The risk of stroke can be reduced by regular exercise, eating well, not smoking, and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol. Unfortunately, stokes can happen to just about anyone without warning. 

The good news is that we’re getting better at helping survivors get back to normalcy. And with mHealth solutions, you can engage in these treatments from the comfort of home. 

June 06, 2016

SMS: King of Digital Marketing

 

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SMS is increasingly an essential part of any mobile marketing campaign, as it offers an inexpensive and highly effective way to engage with target audiences. It also provides real-time marketing messages that most people read quickly, especially compared to email. Let’s look at why SMS is such an excellent option for reaching customers and how to ensure you’re getting the results you want: 

 

Permission-Based

The mobile marketing strategy is wholly permission-based, as the user must opt in to receive messages. This establishes and fosters trust between the consumer and the business. It also allows businesses to assume consumers really want to read their messages. 

 

High Open Rate

As previously mentioned, SMS has a high open rate, as more than 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes. Email campaigns average about 22 percent, while Twitter and Facebook post rates are at about 29 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Text messages are short and to the point, unlike lengthy emails, and are also relatively infrequent.

 

Mobile-Native

More and more businesses are optimizing their websites and emails for the mobile realm, something text messages don’t require. They’re already mobile friendly! There’s no interface or training problems with SMS marketing campaigns, as most people already know how to send a text message. 

 

More Willing

Most customers are willing to share their phone numbers with businesses so they can receive promotional alerts. Even more people are happy to provide their phone numbers and receive promotional messages if they include a discount or other incentive. 

 

Here to Stay

Yet another reason SMS is such a marketing gold mine is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Most people prefer texting to getting phone calls. Additionally, despite the plethora of messaging apps and related platforms, people still gravitate toward text messages. 

 

SMS Mobile Marketing Tips

Get Permission

Whatever else, it’s important to ensure permission is granted before sending promotional text messages. Unsolicited messages and emails are never welcome, and only annoy one target demographic after another. Permission is essential and prevents promotional text messages from landing in the customer’s “spam” folder or just being deleted.

Know When It’s Appropriate

Understand when it’s best to send promotional text messages and when to remain silent. SMS doesn’t apply to every single marketing campaign, and it’s more personal than email. Follow email marketing practices for best results and avoid sending messages too often. Additionally, you should think about consumer location and the best time of day to send messages, and steer clear of overly wordy language. 

Make It Valuable

Provide consumers with something of value when sending text messages, such as an alert about an upcoming sale or event or a promo code for an exclusive discount. Messages should add to consumer experiences with the brand and not fall into the ‘self-serving’ category. 

SMS: cost effective...and just plain effective. 

June 05, 2016

How Mobile Technology Can Save Taxpayers Billions

 

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The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other “next generation” government agencies are leveraging mobile technology to save taxpayers serious sums of money. Government agencies are notorious for wasteful spending, but various departments of transportation are taking cues from the Jefferson City, MO, location, as it’s become the model and standard for saving taxpayers millions via new technologies. 

 

Mobile Maps

Mike Miller, the assistant information systems director for MDOT, told Forbes magazine all the way back in 2012 about his department’s clever use of mobile maps. MDOT had to close two major interstate highways that year, and instead of shutting them down for “eight years” while keeping two lanes open and endangering workers, the department opted to provide residents with mobile maps and apps so they could drive around the freeways. That one decision saved MDOT more than $100 million in taxpayer funds.

 

Five-Year Plan

MDOT’s former head Peter Rahn suggested an ambitious plan to save taxpayers $500 million over five years. According to Miller, the department is ahead of schedule with plan implementation, as it began work in 2010 and has already met 70 percent of its goal. Among the efforts to make the five-year plan a success are using vans equipped with video cameras that film road roughness and allowing residents to rate them. MDOT subsequently fixes the affected road as soon as possible. 

Other actions in the five-year plan include having every MDOT building and roadside access point feature wireless capabilities for employees, so no one wastes time trying to find information. The department utilizes its social media channels to provide people with updates and news, cutting communication costs. MDOT uses SharePoint to manage its records and maintain 33,000 miles of road and thousands of bridges. SharePoint use has saved the department a great deal in oversight and project management costs. 

These are only a few examples of how MDOT is reducing costs with mobile technology. 

 

e-Construction Tools

Another tech innovation saving DOT organizations and taxpayers big money is e-Construction tools. These tools are defined as processes and technology that eliminate paper use, with examples including the digitization of construction documents for distribution to stakeholders through mobile devices. e-Construction was named as a standout tool in a recent Pavia System survey, with 53 percent of DOT respondents saying they adopted e-Construction and 71 percent of respondents noting that they use such tools “widely.”  e-Construction has helped build roads, bridges, and highways, and makes for much more timely deliveries. DOT respondents also said e-Construction tools contributed to at least 76 percent of on budget construction project completions. 

Representatives for the Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Texas Departments of Transportation all applaud e-Construction tools for their ability to save money and time while increasing productivity and resulting in fewer mistakes. 

 

Challenges

With so many benefits stemming from government agencies “going paperless,” why haven’t more departments of transportation made these helpful changes? One theory is that such agencies are responsible for long-term obligations unlike private industries, which simply move on to the next project once one is completed. A lack of tools customized for project owners’ specific needs is another possible reason. Regardless, going the “pilot” route and slowly using more and more e-Construction tools will hopefully alleviate these issues. 

June 04, 2016

mHealth is Set to Explode by 2021

 

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According to a recent study, worldwide shipments of healthcare wearables will nudge 100 million by 2021, increasing the market’s value to $17.6 billion. If the forecast proves accurate, it will represent a staggering 135% annual growth rate.

Wearable technology is finding the perfect home in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s surgeries the world over. It’s a relatively recent shift in emphasis for healthcare providers, and many are still finding their feet within the digital landscape. But those who have grasped the potential of wearables, mobile technology and other digital health solutions have found it’s helped them make care more efficient, expansive and affordable.

The most penetrating breakthrough has been in the form of monitoring and controlling patient outcomes - often with technology as simple as mobile messaging. Diabetes, heart problems, asthma - countless common medical conditions can be managed with the help of mobile messaging.

Despite the promising growth forecast, the wearable device market still faces a number of challenges. Many cash-strapped healthcare providers are reluctant to invest until they can be more certain of the long term benefits - an understandable misgiving in an age when so much ‘new’ technology is rendered obsolete within a couple of years of being launched. Some healthcare providers are also concerned about the task of aggregating and analyzing huge volumes of data in a way that will give them valuable insights into patient behavior. Mobile healthcare analysts believe this attitude will change as platforms become more widespread and user friendly. 

Then there are the patients themselves. The report found that there were issues regarding the cultivation of consumer trust in wearable technology, with a significant number of respondents saying they didn’t believe in the accuracy of the sensors, or that a device could truly deliver medically relevant information. There are concerns too about elderly patients’ reticence to use smartphone technology, or to get behind the concept of ‘remote treatment’ at all.

Nevertheless, as the market grows, so too will the competition. The more developers get into mHealth, the better it will become, and as more data is gathered, public confidence in wearable technology will grow.