WE ARE COMMITTED TO IMPROVING COMMUNICATION AND DELIVERING RESULTS

Texting has the highest open rate of any other channel of communication.  

It is the most widely used channel of communication today. Dialog Health platform is transforming how businesses communicate with their customers. 

 

DISCOVER COMPANIES LIKE YOURS SEEING REAL RESULTS USING DIALOG HEALTH SOLUTIONS

34%

REDUCED NO-SHOWS BY 34% DRASTICALLY INCREASING REVENUE

“Dialog Health has been a great addition to communicate with our patients. It has allowed us to connect much more efficiently without any of the regular issues that present with conventional communication. I would recommend the system because it has so many different functions from decreasing no-shows to notifying our patients of last-minute office changes due to weather delays.”

 – Braxton H., Medical Office Coordinator

92%

REDUCED POST-OP CALLS BY 92% AND SAVED STAFF TIME

“Dialog Health saved my staff from having to make more than 3,250 calls which has substantially impacted our FTE per case.  From a PACU workflow standpoint, the productivity gains we have seen using Dialog Health system have been significant.” 

 –Nelson Rue, Administrator, Baptist Plaza Surgicare

4K+

SENT TEXT MESSAGES TO OVER 4,000 PEOPLE SIMULTANEOUSLY IN JUST 10 MINUTES

“The Dialog Health platform has brought a new light to the way we communicate with our patients. Outside the appointment reminders, this platform has provided my clinic with the ability to communicate with a mass amount of patients in a very short amount of time. With the ability to send mass texts to specific patients, we have dramatically reduced the number of hours spent on the phone and minimized the stress level within my staff.”

 –Austin R., Clinic Manager

78%

OVER 78% ENROLLMENT RESPONSE RATE AND REDUCED ACQUISITION COSTS

“Dialog Health provided the perfect delivery method for our mobile compatible enrollment website, resulting in the elimination of costly onsite enrollments, worksite disruption and with a much higher participation rate than hosting voluntary benefits on benefit admin systems,”

– Tom Smith, Founder of VBA and developer of www.HighLowOrNo.com voluntary benefits enrollment platform.

54%

INCREASED CASH FLOW BY REDUCING ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLES BY 54% IN JUST 6 WEEKS

“By working with Dialog Health, we were able to reduce the outstanding balances by over half in about six weeks. My staff found the direct texting to be far more efficient and pleasant than making many phone calls, and not having to send letters reduced our expenses.”

- Barry Cullen, Regional Vice President, USPI

95%

THOUSANDS OF EMERGENCY MESSAGES DURING HURRICANE HARVEY AND IRMA…REDUCING STAFF PHONE TIME BY 95%

“The Dialog Health platform was essential during Hurricane Irma. With mandatory and voluntary evacuations taking place during the state of emergency...the only way to reach our employees was on their mobile phones. The two-way texting platform was a quick way for us to do headcount checks, identify which staff had evacuated, and confirm employees were safe and accounted for. We also used the system to keep staff apprised of office closures and re-openings.”

- Amy Southerland Lugar, HUB International Southeast

 

DIALOG HEALTH - IN THE NEWS

Dialog Health Becker's ASC review Best P

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

March 11, 2020

 

Critical coronavirus text communications for healthcare facilities

Becker's hospital review features Dialog

BECKER'S

HOSPITAL REVIEW

September 3, 2019

 

3 ways hospital HR departments benefit from texting

Dialog Health in ASC Focus Magaize Feb 2

ASC FOCUS

MAGAZINE

February 2019

 

Improve Patient Engagement with Two-Way Texting. Advantages of replacing voicemails with electronic messaging.

Dialog Health featured in Becker's ASC P

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

February 11, 2020

 

10 reasons text reminders can be a GI recall program game-changer.

PHYSICIANS

PRACTICE

October 3, 2019

 

7 benefits of two-way text messaging with patients

ASCA PRESENTS

ASCA 2019

 

Dialog Health had the opportunity to present on improving patient engagement solutions with two-way texting. Sharing real results ASC are getting with improving their patient engagement.

Diagnostic Imaging article featuring Dia

DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING

March 5, 2020

 

Two-way texting: The simple, effective way to reduce radiology revenue loss.

Becker's Hospital Review features Dialog

BECKER'S

HOSPITAL REVIEW

June 19, 2019

 

8 reasons why hospitals need a patient texting platform

HR DISRUPT CONVENTION

December 2018

 

Employee engagement is too important to take a chance with your communication. Texting technology drastically improves employee communication.

RESULTS - CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY: REDUCE NO-SHOWS

PHYSICIAN GROUP USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP REDUCE NO-SHOWS WITH PATIENTS BY 34% AND GREW REVENUE BY $100,000. 

THE PROBLEM: 

The physician services division of a large health system had a goal of reducing appointment no shows in 2015. Missed appointments were costing them considerable time and money. The primary form of appointment related communication was automated phone calls.

THE SOLUTION: 

The physician services division implemented a two-way real time text messaging platform from Dialog Health. The platform provides clinics the ability to engage patients via automated messaging, ad hoc (group) messaging and direct text messaging. The system has proven the ability to increase revenue, decrease costs, improve staff workflow and enhance patient satisfaction.

THE RESULTS: 

The Dialog Health solution dropped the collective no-show rate by 34%, from 7.64% in December 2014 to 5.03% in June of 2015. The Physician’s group has projected $100,000 in additional revenue.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost effective way to reduce no-shows and increase revenue.

“Dialog Health has been a great addition to communicate with our patients. It has allowed us to connect much more efficiently without any of the regular issues that present with conventional communication. I would recommend the system because it has so many different functions from decreasing no-shows to notifying our patients of last-minute office changes due to weather delays.”

 – Braxton H., Medical Office Coordinator

CASE STUDY: REDUCE PHONE CALLS

AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTER USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP REDUCE POST-OP CALLS BY 92%. 

THE PROBLEM: 

Post-op staff at a high volume surgery center struggled to get patients on the phone the day after surgery to check in on them. Staff were making on average 2.5 calls to each patient to ask the required post-op questions regarding nausea, pain, and relative well being. The typical call lasts about 6 minutes. Staff were also spending unproductive time leaving voicemail messages and most often recalling multiple times before finally getting the patient on the phone.

THE SOLUTION: 

The ASC implemented Dialog Health’s two-way real time text-messaging solution. They immediately automated the delivery of a “1 day post-op” follow-up text survey that would replace the phone call if the patient responded positively to the questions. Dialog Health worked with the quality professionals at the ASC to design the questions to meet the requirements of recent QAPI changes.

THE RESULTS: 

Over a 4 month period from April to July 2015, 1,768 patients opted-in for text reminder messages. 1,411 (80%) patients responded to the post-op text questions. 1,301 (92%) patients responded YES to all of the questions, and saved the cost of the time necessary to make post-op phone calls. 101 (8%) patients responded NO to at least one of the questions so the center called the patient. Overall, Dialog Health reduced post-op calls by 92%.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to significantly improve sta workflow and productivity through its unique text survey capabilities.

“Given we average about 2.5 calls per patient during post-op follow up, the 1,301 patients who responded YES to the texts sent by Dialog Health saved my sta­ from having to make more than 3,250 calls which has substantially impacted our FTE per case. From a PACU workflow standpoint, the productivity gains we have seen using Dialog Health have been significant and my nurses now concentrate on doing what we do best...care for our patients.”

 

-Nelson Rue, Administrator, Baptist Plaza Surgicare

CASE STUDY: EMERGENCY / MASS COMMUNICATIONS

PHYSICIAN GROUP USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP ALERT THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS WITHIN MINUTES DRASTICALLY REDUCING STAFF PHONE CALLS.  

THE PROBLEM: 

A major practice was having diffIculty  communicating quickly with patients, staff, and  providers when unexpected events happened—  increasing stress, confusion, and costs due to  miscommunication and the chaos it caused.

THE SOLUTION: 

The practice implemented Dialog Health’s Ad Hoc mobile messaging solution to send messages to a specific segment of the patient, staff, and provider population.

THE RESULTS: 

Using the Dialog Health Ad Hoc mobile messaging solution, the administrator sent 4,706 messages for 1 practice in 3 locations instead of using phone calls to reach the same population. Total time spent by administrator: less than 10 minutes. The Ad Hoc solution is also a great incentive to get patients to OPT-IN, which in turn increases patient satisfaction.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to drastically reduce staff workload and reach thousands of patients in minutes.

“The Dialog Health platform has brought a new light to the way we communicate with our patients. Outside the appointment reminders, this platform has provided my clinic with the ability to communicate with a mass amount of patients in a very short amount of time. Throughout this year, we have had multiple cases of inclement weather or ill providers where we had to communicate with our patients that would potentially be affected. With the ability to send mass texts to specific patients, we have dramatically reduced the number of hours spent on the phone and minimized the stress level within my staff.”

 

-Austin R., Clinic Manager

CASE STUDY: INCREASED BENEFITS ENROLLMENT AND REDUCED ACQUISITION COSTS

Broker recommends to Employer HR department to use Dialog Health two-way text solution to eliminate onsite disruption and costly benefit admin buildout for voluntary benefit enrollment. The text messages also kept voluntary plans non-ERISA. The process dramatically reduced acquisition cost and generated $100 of annual revenue per eligible employee.

THE PROBLEM: 

An Employer with more than 3,000 employees realized that hosting voluntary benefits on their benefit admin system was not only costly but was resulting in very low participation and potentially triggered ERISA plan requirements. Enrollment deadlines were often missed as Employees did not respond to reminder emails in a timely manner or did not engage with marketing collateral that was distributed. Also, Employers found onsite enrollment visits caused worksite disruption with limited engagement.

THE SOLUTION: 

The insurance broker recommended the Employer use Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform for enrollment related communication. The Employer deployed Dialog Health’s two-way texting solution letting Employees know that Annual Enrollment had begun and that they MUST accept or decline voluntary benefits by a certain date. Given that over 90% of mobile phones have access to the internet, the text messages included a direct link to a third party voluntary benefits website and the access code for the Employee. This allowed the Employees to log on and enroll directly from their mobile device. The texts focused on two distinct campaigns: Accident/CI/Identity Theft and Life/Long Term Care. If an Employee had not completed enrollment by a set date, they were sent a 2nd text reminding them that enrollment was not completed and again giving them a link to the benefits website in the text. Importantly, the website was set-up as a bit.ly link so that the company could track the number of clicks on the link sent via the text messages.

THE RESULTS: 

As a result of using Dialog Health’s two-way texting solution the Employer drastically increased engagement with their voluntary benefits enrollment campaign. The Accident/CI/Identity Theft campaign, 9399 SMS texts were sent with over 78% of employees logging into the enrollment website (7385 responses). For the Life/Long Term Care campaign, 57% of employees logged in and accepted or declined coverage (1786 responses to the 3139 texts sent). Also, the text included a direct link to a third-party enrollment system that was clicked on over 60% of the time.

THE CONCLUSION: 

The Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be a highly effective and very cost-efficient way to inform and engage Employees of voluntary benefits, keep plans non-ERISA and directly link them to a third party voluntary benefits website where they can accept or decline coverage.

“Dialog Health provided the perfect delivery method for our mobile compatible enrollment website, resulting in the elimination of costly onsite enrollments, worksite disruption and with a much higher participation rate than hosting voluntary benefits on benefit admin systems,”

 

- Tom Smith, Founder of VBA and developer of www.HighLowOrNo.com voluntary benefits enrollment platform.

CASE STUDY: IMPROVE REVENUE COLLECTION

Ambulatory surgery center uses Dialog Health to help reduce outstanding accounts receivables with patients from $110,000 to $48,000 in just 6 weeks.

THE PROBLEM: 

Chasing up payments from patients can be an expensive, time consuming, and inefficient process. Employees at a high volume surgery center attempted multiple calls and sent multiple letters in hopes of reaching the patients who had payments that were past due. As of October 1, 2016, the facility had $110,000 in outstanding accounts receivables with patients.

THE SOLUTION: 

The ASC which was already using Dialog Health’s two-way real time text messaging platform for appointment related communication added messages to the Dialog Health platform to remind patients that a payment was due. Employees were able to send direct texts to the patient instead of making multiple phone calls or mailing billing correspondences. Importantly, the text messages included a link to their payment portal and a phone number the patient could call if they had any questions.

THE RESULTS: 

The ASC was able to reduce their outstanding accounts receivable balance from $110,000 to $48,000 in just six weeks by using the Dialog Health platform. Employees also had more time to focus on other tasks at the facility instead of making phone calls and generating and mailing reminder invoices.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost effective way to improve the collection of accounts receivables from patients.

“The Dialog Health platform is an invaluable part of our e orts to improve our payment collections process. By working with Dialog Health, we were able to reduce the outstanding balances by over half in about six weeks. My sta found the direct texting to be far more ecient and pleasant than making many phone calls, and not having to send letters reduced our expenses. Not only has the Dialog Health platform been extremely cost e ective, but feedback from our patients has been positive in that they find a text reminder less of a hassle and more welcoming than a phone call.”

 

- Barry Cullen, Regional Vice President, USPI

95%

THOUSANDS OF EMERGENCY MESSAGES DURING HURRICANE HARVEY AND IRMA…REDUCING STAFF PHONE TIME BY 95%

“The Dialog Health platform was essential during Hurricane Irma. With mandatory and voluntary evacuations taking place during the state of emergency...the only way to reach our employees was on their mobile phones. The two-way texting platform was a quick way for us to do headcount checks, identify which staff had evacuated, and confirm employees were safe and accounted for. We also used the system to keep staff apprised of office closures and re-openings.”

- Amy Southerland Lugar, HUB International Southeast

 
 
 
 
 

IN THE NEWS - FULL ARTICLES

BECKER'S Clinical Leadership & Infection Control

Coronavirus communications from ASCs: 7 critical messages

We are all aware of the high level of uncertainty that has marked the start of 2020.

The coronavirus represents a significant unknown and is impacting people and processes in ways that known entities like the flu do not. There is a growing sense of panic that this unknown is now fueling. While the panic is not all justified, it cannot be ignored.

ASCs have a responsibility to keep patients, staff, providers and vendors safe. At a time like this, effective communication and messaging are even more critical.

Here are examples of seven messages your ASC may want to consider sharing with the people coming to your facility and who they should be directed toward.

• For patients and vendors: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please contact us to reschedule your appointment."
• For staff: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please call the office to reschedule your shift."
• For anyone: "Please be advised that we have implemented a NO handshake policy on the premise at all times"
• For staff and providers: "As a valued team member, please remember the importance of following hand hygiene, masking and all other hygiene-related policies per your training."
• For patients, family members and vendors: "While in our waiting room or other areas of the facility, please cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze and cough. We have tissues and hand sanitizer located throughout the waiting room for your use. Please use both!"
• For everyone: "To reduce your risk of spreading infection, remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. It helps to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth."
• For staff: "Remember that we have changed our patient pre-screening and screening upon admission policies to include asking where patients have traveled. If you have any concerns about admitting a patient, please speak with your supervisor."

Spreading the word (not the virus)
It is critical to establish processes to best ensure these and other timely messages are distributed in an efficient and effective manner. Posting notices on your website, social media and around your ASC are worthwhile. Outbound communication like phone calls and emails can work as well. But texting is likely your best option for mass communication.

As was noted in a previous Becker's ASC Review column, "Texting is a proven form of communication. Research has shown that 98% of texts are read and 95% are read within just three minutes of being sent. This means if you need to get a message out quickly, to a significant number of people and with a high degree of confidence that your audience will receive it, send that message as a text."

We like to say that "The time to deploy texting is well before it is needed." With the coronavirus likely to continue spreading for some time, bringing with it even more panic, the time to deploy texting may be as soon as possible.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health, a cloud-based, two-way texting platform that enables vital information to be pushed to and pulled from patients and caregivers.

DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING - MJH Life Sciences

Two-Way Texting: The Simple, Effective Way to Reduce Radiology Revenue Loss

Radiology departments tend to have some of the most advanced and effective technology in a hospital. Yet, when it comes to communication with patients, most radiology departments lack a crucial, yet inexpensive technology: two-way texting.

Before we discuss this technology, it's helpful to gain a better understanding about why patient communication is so important for radiology departments. Consider that according to research published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, radiology loses more uncaptured revenue per patient visit than primary care or other practices due to patients failing to keep appointments. This research estimated that uncaptured radiology revenue due to no-shows likely reaches $1 million annually at a typical U.S. academic medical center.

To communicate with patients about appointments, radiology departments have historically relied upon staff phone calls or mailed letters, such as mammogram reminders. While these communication methods may have once served radiology departments well, they are likely no longer effective for achieving their objectives.

A Harris Poll survey found that 29 percent of consumers do not listen to their voicemails. A Consumer Reports national survey found that 70 percent of Americans will not answer their phones when they don't recognize the incoming number. This will likely include calls made by healthcare organizations and radiology departments. Voicemails can linger unheard for days or may be deleted without ever being listened to if the message is believed to be spam.

Letters sent via the Postal Service take at least a few days and there is no means of determining whether a letter reached its intended location and recipient. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing whether the recipient will read, let alone, act on the contents of the letter.

Finally, both of these more traditional communication methods are expensive. The cost of sending a stuffed envelope, factoring in staff time and materials, typically runs around $1.20 to $2.00. Phone calls — with most outreach efforts requiring multiple calls — occupy expensive staff time.

The (Radiology) Case for Two-Way Texting

Now let's assess why texting — specifically two-way texting — is a communication platform that radiology departments should strongly consider. Two-way texting, when used in healthcare, enables information to be pushed to and pulled from patients, caregivers and facility staff.

What makes texting such an effective method of communication? The American adult, irrespective of age, has made texting a fundamental part of the communication in their lives. Texting is how Americans choose to communicate with their family, their friends, their colleagues and select businesses.

 

Nearly all U.S. adults now own cell phones, with smartphone ownership exceeding 80 percent, notes the Pew Research Center. This extends to older individuals, with 91 percent of adults 65 and over owning cell phones and a majority owning smartphones. Many adults now prefer to receive and send a text instead of receiving/making a phone call, according to a Chicago Tribune article. This preference is apparent when considering that 95 percent of text messages are read within just three minutes of being sent, according to a Forbes article, and 98 percent of all text messages are read, Mobile Marketing Watch reports.

Cost is also a factor that makes texting an appealing means of communication for healthcare providers. Whereas the cost of making phone calls and sending letters is measured in dollars, the cost of sending texts is measured in pennies.

Value of Two-Way Texting for Radiology

Radiology departments that leverage two-way texting can achieve improvements in several areas of their operations. These include the following:

Top-line revenue: Texting can have a significant, positive impact on appointment cancellations and no-shows. Texted reminders can help keep patients compliant with pre-appointment requirements and better ensure they arrive at their appointment at the right place and on time.

If patients need to cancel an appointment, one cannot assume they will pick up the phone and call to do so. They may choose to simply not show rather than wait on hold and eventually discuss their situation. However, they may not hesitate to text the need to cancel, especially if prompted by a message asking patients to confirm their appointment or asking if they have any concerns. A follow-up text from hospitals can help with rescheduling the appointment.

An additional revenue-generating opportunity is to send mammogram recall texts. Since patients' mobile numbers rarely change, those numbers already in your system or captured going forward are likely to remain the same for years. You can schedule text messages to go out to patients in advance, whether that be days, weeks or months before upcoming appointments. When texting is automated, there's no risk of falling behind and developing a backlog of outreach efforts.

Expenses and waste: Two-way texting will eliminate some of the expensive mail usually sent for appointment reminder or results communication. Two-way texting can also eliminate wasted doses that need to be discarded because patients failed to show up for their appointment.

Staff workflow: Staff in the radiology department tasked with communicating to patients can significantly reduce the time they spend on the phone calling and leaving voicemails for patients or assembling letters.

Portal utilization: Two-way texting is an easy way to notify patients that results are available. If a link to the patient portal is included in the text, patients can click on the link to activate the browser on their phone and go to the sign-in page of the portal.

Radiology Department Case Study

Data backs up the value of two-way texting for radiology departments. A radiology department that used a two-way texting platform ran a study in 2019, according to Dialog Health data, to see what impact two-way texting could have on its top-line revenue. From January through April, half of its patients were enrolled to receive texts while the other half did not receive text reminders about their appointment. The study included nearly 5,000 scheduled appointments.

The results: Patients receiving only text reminders had 180 no-shows, while patients receiving phone calls had 254 no-shows. That's a 29 percent reduction in no-shows. Another way of looking at it: 75 additional appointments in the first third of the year, which would translate to more than 220 additional appointments for the entire year.

Implementing Two-Way Texting for Radiology

Hospitals and their radiology departments must ensure the channels used to communicate with patients are chosen based upon individual patient preferences. Some patients will prefer letters, some may prefer phone calls or emails. But, for a majority of patients, texting will be a — if not the — communication method of choice. This should be welcomed news for the reasons highlighted earlier and many others. Texts can eliminate many outgoing phone calls and letters, generate inbound calls and increase touch frequency with patients. Two-way texting is a channel that should be considered as a key part of any radiology department's communication strategy.

A good rule of thumb: If you can include a message in a voicemail, email or letter, consider sending it as a text message. You'll find that's often a winning proposition.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health. He has nearly 20 years of business and program development experience in healthcare, having worked with leading employers, physicians, payors and hospital systems. With three physicians in his family, Brandon understands the challenges many providers face concerning patient engagement.

BECKER'S ASC REVIEW

5 reasons your ASC needs a mass communication plan

On most days in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), communication is second nature.

A combination of phone calls, emails and text messages are used to complete routine tasks, from patient pre-surgical assessments to staff scheduling to vendor appointment verification. But on occasion, these forms of individual or small group outreach efforts are inadequate. What's the occasion? An emergency or crisis. That's when your ASC will need a mass communication plan (and one, as will be explained later, that should be carried out via text messaging).

As the Department of Homeland Security's Ready website notes, "When an emergency occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. … An important component of the [emergency] preparedness program is the crisis communications plan. A business must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency in the hours and days that follow. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs."

In addition, an effective mass communication plan also allows businesses to track whether critical messages have reached audiences successfully. If your ASC is in business long enough, it will encounter an emergency, crisis or unexpected event that warrants communication. For some surgery centers, such experiences are likely to be more commonplace.

Consider the following five reasons why ASCs need a mass communication plan:

1. Disasters. Disasters have the potential to wreak havoc on an ASC. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, can cause significant damage to a surgery center or at least greatly disrupt operations if damage occurs in the surrounding area. Manmade disasters, such as bioterrorism attacks, transportation accidents, fires and even cyberattacks, can do the same. An effective mass communication plan will inform patients, staff and vendors of the change in operations and better help ensure these individuals stay off the roads and out of harm's way.

2. Weather. As with disasters, the likes of a blizzard, thunderstorm or hailstorm can force an ASC to at least temporarily close. If damage occurs to the facility or the roads around it, this closure may extend to days or even weeks. Any delays in conveying time-sensitive updates to individuals planning to travel to the ASC will create increased risk.

3. Power outages. While ASCs are required to own generators, their use is intended to be temporary. So, when power outages occur — which has become more commonplace in parts of California, for example — ASCs will need to suspend operations as soon as safely possible. Power outages can last for hours, days or even longer. During these times, ASCs will want the ability to rapidly inform anyone who will be affected by the change, both about when the power outage occurs and when power has returned.

While power outages are not typically as dangerous as disasters or severe weather, any individuals who come to the ASC and find out that they made an unnecessary trip are likely to be unhappy. This feeling will likely be elevated for those patients who cannot easily take time off from work or must travel long distances for their surgical care. A mass communication plan can reduce such dissatisfaction.

 

4. Active shooters and workplace violence. News reports regularly remind us that active shooters and workplace violence are serious threats to any business, including ASCs. In fact, healthcare organizations face an elevated risk.

As an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study notes, "The rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average. In fact, healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined." One of the factors OSHA cites as a reason for the increased risk: "lack of means of emergency communication."

Mass communication can inform staff — and possibly employees of other businesses, if the ASC is in a shared building — of what is occurring, helping them make decisions to aid in the response and keep others away from the location where the incident is occurring. In addition, mass communication can help keep more individuals from coming to the ASC, reducing the risk of more harm.

5. Unplanned surgeon absence. While not as urgent as the other reasons highlighted above, a mass communication plan comes in handy for an unplanned surgeon absence — particularly when that surgeon performs a high volume of daily procedures (e.g., gastroenterologist, pain management specialist, ophthalmologist). The sooner an ASC can inform patients of the need to cancel their procedures due to such an absence, the more time patients and their family members/friends will have to adjust their schedules accordingly. Effective outreach can help increase patient satisfaction or at least reduce any potential damage to satisfaction caused by the cancellation.

Why text messaging should be the mass communication method of choice
While phone trees and email can be used as mass communication methods, neither is as effective or efficient as text messaging. Texting should be a primary component of any emergency communication plan for any ASC.

Here are a few of the most critical reasons why:
• Cell phone towers have backup generators, which means that when the main power goes off, cell phones still work.

• More than 96% of Americans own a mobile phone of some kind, and there is a high likelihood that people will have their mobile phone with them throughout an emergency. Most people have their phone with them almost every waking minute, or it is at least within earshot.

• Texting is a proven form of communication. Research has shown that 98% of texts are read and 95% are read within just three minutes of being sent. This means if you need to get a message out quickly, to a significant number of people and with a high degree of confidence that your audience will receive it, send that message as a text.

• Most phone calls go unanswered, voicemail is "going the way of the dinosaurs" and large numbers of emails go unread.

Also consider the following: According to a Nextgov report, data indicates that a person who texts has an 800-to-1 better chance of sending a message to someone in an emergency than using voice communications because a short message (e.g., "imok" for "I'm OK") requires only four bytes using standard text messaging protocols. Furthermore, a Consumer Reports News article encourages texting over phone calls when faced with a disaster. Finally, a Public Health Reports study highlights the effectiveness of text messaging for communicating information to public health employees and improving workforce situational awareness during emergencies.

More organizations now rely on text messaging for emergency communication, including many utilities. The federal government has its own text messaging system (Wireless Emergency Alerts) for emergencies. The system has been used nearly 50,000 times to warn the public about critical situations.

ASCs should consider how texting can help strengthen the communication component of their emergency preparedness and business continuity plan. Two-way texting is ubiquitous, effective and very efficient. The time to deploy texting is well before it is needed.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health, a cloud-based, two-way texting platform that enables vital information to be pushed to and pulled from patients and caregivers.