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Securing Customer Data Amidst the Coronavirus Push for a Greater Digital Experience 600 237 Bob Janacek

Securing Customer Data Amidst the Coronavirus Push for a Greater Digital Experience

As we enter into our fifth month working from home during the Coronavirus Pandemic, we felt it was a good time to discuss the impact the virus has already had on some businesses and what lasting impacts it will likely have on businesses and organizations in the future. We sat down with DataMotion CEO, Bob Janacek to hear his thoughts on the topic. Our questions are in bold.

First things first, I hope you and your family have been staying safe and healthy during this time. Like many other organizations throughout the country, DataMotion has been working from home the past several months. Can you elaborate on how the Coronavirus impacted the way the company works and communicates with one another?

Bob Janacek: Fortunately, DataMotion has always been a cloud-first company, both in our product offering and also in the way that we run our business.  Our customers utilize our cloud-based APIs and software as a service from anywhere, so that hasn’t changed.  And as a company, our employees use cloud-based services to get their work done.  We’re heavily invested in Microsoft’s cloud stack, including Office 365, Teams and Dynamics 365.  Those work just as well for employees working from home as they do from the office.

It sounds like there was a relatively seamless switch for the company to remote communications. I can imagine that some companies, such as those that frequently have in-person interactions with customers and clients, had some trouble adjusting the way they communicate internally and externally. What kinds of challenges have these companies had to navigate?

Bob Janacek:  States have implemented various restrictions to increase social distancing and help combat the spread of the Coronavirus.  Among our customers, especially for those in financial services, insurance and healthcare, the most disruptive event is the reduction or elimination of face to face visits. So, business that used to get done in person, such as opening up an account or CD in a bank branch, or face to face interaction with an insurance agent, is difficult if not impossible. This makes it harder for customers to do business with these organizations, damaging their brand and reputation, and affecting their bottom line.

Can you give an example of a customer that DataMotion helped modernize and secure the way they do business in response to the Coronavirus?

Bob Janacek: We’ve helped a wide variety of enterprises during the pandemic, ranging from financial services firms in the wealth management, consumer loan and retail banking sectors to healthcare companies providing services for clinical trials, pharmaceutical benefits and care coordination. In each case, they turned to DataMotion to make it easier to do remote business with their customers. The most common use case is API integration of our DataMotion PaaS to add secure message and document exchange after the login of their customer portal or mobile app, and inside the CRM and contact center solutions their employees use to service their customers.

So, based off of this customer story and other stories that you can think of, what tips or best practices can you give for other companies who are still trying to find a way to do business in this challenging environment?

Bob Janacek: Living through a pandemic is understandably causing people to experience a great deal of stress, hardship and uncertainty. Organizations that are easy to do business with, especially in these challenging times, reduce customer stress, build their loyalty and position themselves to grow. There’s been a lot of talk about the things businesses need to do to adapt in the current and post-pandemic world. Having a high competency in doing business remotely is often at the top of this list. Many leading organizations are taking this opportunity to up their customer experience by offering simple, remote, digital ways for their customers to do business with them.

So far, we’ve talked mostly about how companies have reacted, or are currently reacting, to the shift to work from home that the Coronavirus has caused. Let’s look a little bit into the future now – what permanent changes do you foresee the coronavirus having on the way organizations work and communicate in the long term?

Bob Janacek: The need to remotely support and do business with customers is not going away. Younger generations of consumers expect a mobile-first relationship with their suppliers. We’ve seen the pandemic force companies out of their comfort zone and reimage their business processes for a digital future. This will serve them well in today’s environment and for years to come.

Is there anything organizations can do now to start preparing for these changes?

Bob Janacek: Organizations need to look at their existing workflows and processes and determine which ones can be modernized or at least be offered as a digital alternative. Legacy processes including courier, postal mail and fax are slow and expensive, and can typically be replaced or supplemented by digital equivalents. This is especially effective for organizations that already have a customer-facing app or portal. In this case, offering a richer digital experience accelerates business process, reduces costs, and increases customer retention and revenue recognition.

So, you talked a little bit about a push for greater digital experiences. In recent months, Telehealth visits have become the new norm – do you think this is something that will stick after the coronavirus has subsided?

Bob Janacek: Absolutely. Between driving, parking and waiting rooms, we’ve all spent hours to receive ten minutes of time with a doctor. Telemedicine brings convenience to routine care. It also makes it easier for care encounters to occur, allowing patients to receive care and be monitored more frequently, resulting in better outcomes.

With these visits happening virtually, it’s likely that there’s an increase in doctors and nurses needing to send medical records or other information to patients through some sort of online channel. Are there any issues to look out for in this situation?

Bob Janacek: Telehealth visits often generate clinical information that must be shared with the patient and the patient’s primary care provider. Since this data is covered under privacy regulations such as HIPAA, care must be taken to exchange this information in a secure manner. Physicians typically use an EMR system and prefer to receive this information electronically using Direct Secure Messaging.  This is a secure message exchange protocol built into EMR systems that’s designed to replace fax, saving time and money by importing clinical data in digital form. Patients will typically receive their results in a patient portal or through a HIPAA-compliant secure email system.

Do you have any other thoughts on any of the topics we discussed that you would like to share?

Bob Janacek: Yes, absolutely. We’re seeing a paradigm shift in consumer expectations, driven partly by the pandemic and social distancing, but also by the digital-first, smartphone-first generations of Millennials and Gen-Z’ers. Organizations that evolve to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers will grow and thrive, while those that stick to traditional legacy methods will rapidly fall behind. We’ve seen this disruption happen to eCommerce firms, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t happen to every firm that services consumers. The expectations of customers are high, as is the need to provide a superior customer experience. For many organizations, supplementing traditional business processes with modern digital equivalents isn’t just a nice to have, it’s absolutely necessary for their growth and survival. Those organizations that have mastered doing business in a remote, digital way, while providing a superior customer experience, are well positioned to grow and thrive today and in the future. It’s a small expense that generates big returns.

As we finish up the interview, I have two more, fun questions to ask. First, are there any new activities or hobbies that you’ve picked up to keep yourself busy during quarantine? 

Bob Janacek: Funny you should ask. At the urging of my son, I’ve set up a three-hole disc golf course around my property.  It’s good to get outside and have a little family competition, but I’m getting beaten regularly because my son is home and has a lot of time to practice. I’m home too, but my time is usually spent on the computer working remotely.

My final question, what’s the number one thing you are looking forward to doing once all quarantine restrictions are lifted?

Bob Janacek: I’m looking forward to freedom.  The ability to go anywhere and visit anyone without restrictions. That would be amazing. It’s the simple things, sometime, that mean the most.

Looking to take the next step to provide a greater digital experience while securing customer data?

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How to Solve the Disconnect Between Compliance Regulations and Customer Experience 1000 395 Christian Grunkemeyer

How to Solve the Disconnect Between Compliance Regulations and Customer Experience

In the previous sections of this series, we discussed what customer experience is, why it’s important, and how you can achieve it. To recap, customer experience is a lifetime journey across all touchpoints and communication channels. The push towards providing this experience is influenced by the growing spending power of millennials who demand a unique, yet cost-effective experience. To meet these demands, businesses need to use customer data to provide an omnichannel experience and adapt and evolve to meet future requirements. But what happens when a business frequently deals with personally identifiable information (PII) and the customer experience strategy must be in compliance with industry regulations?

A disconnect between compliance and customer experience

Oftentimes, businesses put processes in place to meet regulatory demands – but don’t take the extra time to review the program from the user’s perspective. This may result in a user having difficulty sending and retrieving information, a compliance team wasting time jumping through hoops to review communications, or even worse, accidentally gaining access to information they shouldn’t see! What else? End users may be responsible for remembering to press a “secure” button or forced to remember which “keyword” to put in the subject before sending confidential information – this should automatically happen in most cases.

So, what should you look for when developing a compliant and user-friendly method of sharing confidential information with your customers and business partners?

Before implementing any electronic communications program, we recommend businesses ask these questions:

  • How will the program impact the users (employees)?
  • What kind of compliance risks may it result in?
  • What impact does it have on their customers?

All three of these are key for successful implementation of the program. If the program works great for employees, is easy for the compliance department to review, but the business fails to make it easy for the customer – then this dramatically impacts the customer experience.

Using a Secure Message Center to solve the disconnect

One solution to this disconnect is a secure message center within a self-service website, customer portal, or mobile app. If implemented correctly, it can provide value to both the business and the customers. Based on feedback from our customers, they want to add more channels to their support process to give customers access across multiple devices and empower their agents to more easily communicate with customers.

While introducing these extra channels is great for increasing customer communications, it often makes it harder to ensure security and compliance. This is where an integrated secure message center comes in handy. By using a secure message center, you can add web-mail, file exchange, and web-form services natively to member service portals and mobile apps. Enable your business to provide an integrated communication channel between agents and your customers – effectively adding another channel in an omnichannel strategy – a compliance channel.

Want to read more? Click a link below to jump to the other segments of this blog series:

Part 1: What Does “Customer Experience” Really Mean?

Part 2: Why is Customer Experience Important – And How Can You Achieve It?

BOOST YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WITH A SECURE MESSAGE CENTER

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Seeking to Increase Customer Retention? You Need Seamless Communication 640 252 Thomas Donhauser

Seeking to Increase Customer Retention? You Need Seamless Communication

In last month’s blog, I talked about how companies are looking to improve their digital strategy and better engage with their consumers.  Much of this was centered around the idea of incorporating a digital strategy when it comes to how your company communicates and interacts with your “customer.”  At the same time, improving that digital strategy also needs to look at how you work with and communicate with your partners and other various stakeholders.

As an example, DataMotion works with a variety of companies that provide patient hub services.  As a first step, these companies wanted to incorporate a secure channel for email communication with their customers.  The ability to integrate secure communication into their CRM system, whether it was Salesforce or another CRM solution, was critical as it allowed their employees to simplify their process and ensure that all communication was kept in one place, making them more efficient and customers happier.

Why the need for a great customer experience?

This is important for a variety of reasons.  Consumers today are time stressed just like we all are – they do not want to repeat or re-enter information that has already been shared.  Providing consumers with this seamless and personalized level of service is critical to an exceptional customer experience.

At the same time, consumers have also become accustomed to instant or “near instant” gratification, often referred to as the Amazon effect.  Today’s consumers expect a high level of customer service and want the ability to get their questions answered immediately and be able to access other information easily when necessary.  According to a recent study by Salesforce, 82% of consumers would switch providers as a result of a bad experience. Thus, if you are not providing a high level of service, someone else will and ultimately your customer will find another provider that makes their life easier.  Bottom line – a great customer experience = better customer retention.

Even companies that have not traditionally interacted with consumers directly, such as pharmaceutical manufacturers, are beginning to develop and foster direct consumer relationships.  Because of this, these businesses must rethink their customer support strategies and how they wish to engage with their consumers as well.

The below chart is just one example of what today’s consumers are looking for from a pharmaceutical company:

Bar chart showing what consumers say it's important for pharmaceutical companies to do for customer retention and experience

*Source: “State of the Connected Customer”, Salesforce Research, June 2019

Seamless communication is a requirement

Seamless communication is critical to great customer experience. Business partners and stakeholders must work together to make it a reality.  For patient hub services, this might mean that instead of providers faxing over clinical care notes or other clinical data that would come from the EHR, this information might now be integrated into the workflow by using Direct or some other connection to the EHR.

A great customer experience is not the only benefit of this kind of seamless communication. The ability to bring clinical data into the workstream in a more automated manner will not only improve the experience but will lower costs and lessens the potential for manual data entry errors.

Bottom line is, take care of your customers and the experience they have with you and watch your customer retention rise while lowering costs.

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Why is Customer Experience Important – And How Can You Achieve It? 1000 395 Christian Grunkemeyer

Why is Customer Experience Important – And How Can You Achieve It?

In the first part of this blog series we discussed what customer experience means. To recap, customer experience is a lifetime journey across all touchpoints and communication channels. If your organization can provide excellent customer experience and meet your customer’s expectations, then you will see greater customer retention and growth for years to come.

Millennial Growth and Expectations

So, why do we talk so much about customer experience and why is it important for your company to provide a great experience? To answer that question simply – it’s about evolving technology and constantly changing customer expectations – especially from millennials.

Every year, millennials spending power continues to grow. In fact, the millennial generation recently overtook the baby boomers as the largest adult population group in the United States making them the future of your company’s growth. This begs the question – what do millennials want?

According to Lexington Law, they want a unique, cost-effective experience with great customer service. That seems like a no-brainer – don’t we all want that? In addition, Lexington Law also states that three quarters of millennials will switch to another brand if they have a negative experience and 67% believe it is their responsibility to share feedback to a brand about their experience. However, if you’re able to provide them with a positive experience, then 60% will remain loyal to your brand and they will be more likely to share that positive experience.

So, what does that mean for your company? If you can provide an excellent customer experience, then this group is much more likely to share that positive experience AND remain loyal to your brand much more than previous generations.

Finally, according to a report by Microsoft, 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online. Making it essential for companies to have an easy, online method for customers to get help when they need it.

Utilizing Customer Data to Meet Demands

In order to deliver a positive experience, we believe it’s important for companies to provide their customers with a seamless, digital experience across various platforms and channels. In fact, NICE inContact reported that 93% of surveyed consumers want a seamless omnichannel experience, but a shocking 73% gave companies a poor rating on their ability to seamlessly switch between channels. This means that many companies are struggling to meet the demands of their customers – leading to unhappy customers and a negative impact on their bottom line.

So, how can you meet these demands and provide a positive experience? Start with the channels you provide to your customers. Many companies offer several ways for customers to contact them and have exchanges. How well do these channels really work together? Is it easy to switch from one to another – not just for the customer but for your employees too?

Finally, simply meeting today’s demands for a seamless digital experience is not enough. As customer expectations change and evolve, so will your customers’ experience. Your company must have the ability and flexibility to adapt to future requirements to keep that experience great, and customer retention high.

We’ve discussed what customer experience is, why it’s important, and how you can begin to address your customers’ demands. But what if you work in an industry that’s heavily regulated? How can you meet these regulatory demands without sacrificing the customer experience? Stay tuned for the final part of this blog series to find out.

Want to read more? Click a link below to jump to the other segments of this blog series:

Part 1: What Does “Customer Experience” Really Mean?

Part 3: How to Solve the Disconnect Between Compliance Regulations and Customer Experience

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What Does “Customer Experience” Really Mean? 1000 395 Christian Grunkemeyer

What Does “Customer Experience” Really Mean?

We talk a lot about ensuring your customers and clients have a seamless and secure customer experience . Let’s take a step back for a minute and think about what the words “customer experience,” or CX, really mean.

According to Harvard Business Review, customer experience is defined as:

“the cumulative impact of your customer’s end-to-end journey with you, the multiple touchpoints over time which create a true competitive advantage to companies that get it right.” 

This implies that customer experience is not a short-term line-item metric or KPI, it’s much more complex. Instead, it’s a lifetime journey across all touchpoints and communication channels. At DataMotion, we strongly believe the ultimate measure of customer experience is a customer’s lifetime value and being able to keep that customer.

Your customer experience strategy should be a holistic one, not a one-off interaction or marketing campaign. It should truly marry customer expectations with the business objectives of the organization. Think about it, if your customers are not satisfied and they switch to a competitor, then your ability to meet business objectives and revenue goals will become that much harder. On the other hand, if your organization can meet your customer’s expectations with service improvements resulting in greater customer retention, then you could see significant, long-term growth for years to come.

There’s a difference between hearing and listening. You may collect customer data to hear about all of your customers’ needs and wants, but if you don’t actually listen to their desires and implement changes to meet their expectations, then what good is the data anyway? Your consumers want to feel understood as individuals with relevant offers and messaging. So, if you’re able to use your customer data to create more meaningful experiences for them, then you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors. If you’re not able to use this data, then you might just be left behind.

So, now you know what customer experience is, but do you know why we’re talking about it and why it has become such a hot topic in recent years? In a follow-up segment to this blog, we’ll talk about the trends impacting customer experience and how they might impact the future of your company’s growth.

Do you work in the financial services industry? Learn more about how customer experience trends are impacting your company by reading this whitepaper.

Want to read more? Click a link below to jump to the other segments of this blog series:

Part 2: Why is Customer Experience Important – And How Can You Achieve It?

Part 3: How to Solve the Disconnect Between Compliance Regulations and Customer Experience

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Saving Your Health, One Mask at a Time 1024 404 Peter Tippett

Saving Your Health, One Mask at a Time

The following is a blog written by Peter Tippett, MD, PhD. Tippett is Chairman of the DataMotion Board of Directors and currently serves as the CEO of careMESH. The blog was originally published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/saving-your-health-one-mask-time-peter-tippett-md-phd/


We all hear the same things: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay at home, stay 6 feet away from others. Viruses live on boxes and plastic and door knobs and…EVERYWHERE.

How does the average person decide what measures to follow unless they truly understand how these things work or have a clear set of “rules” they can abide by?

I am an Internal Medicine-certified, Emergency Room MD with a PhD in Biochemistry. I have also spent much of my professional life in the high-tech world helping people understand how risk, infection, and the growth of infection behaves.  So I thought it might be helpful to folks in my network to explain how personal protection from a virus like SARS-CoV-2 (the formal name of the virus that causes COVID-19) actually works, how any given measure individually lowers risk, how various countermeasures work together, and most importantly, to give you some simple guidelines for day-to-day living in this new COVID world.

Bottom Line On Masks & Gloves:

  • Wear a mask when you are in “exposure” zones (mainly places with other people).
  • Treat your home, car, and yard as safe places (no mask or gloves).
  • Be on high alert on what you are doing with your hands when you are in “danger zones.”  This is when you must not touch your face.
  • Consider wearing gloves (even winter gloves or work gloves can be helpful) but only for short periods of time and only when in “touch exposure” danger zones.
  • Remove your gloves (and mask) when you return to your safe place.
  • Wash your hands every single time you take off your gloves or mask, or move from a danger zone back to a safe zone.
  • When you are at home and after washing up, you can relax, scratch your nose, rub your eyes and floss your teeth…without worry.

Protections Work Together

All protections or countermeasures are only partially effective. For example, wearing the seat belt in your car reduces the likelihood of dying by about 50% compared with not wearing it.  You can think about that as horrible (“it will fail half the time!”), or as great (“it cuts the risk of dying in half!”). For everything we care about, in all aspects of life, we solve this “risk” problem by using countermeasures together to improve their collective effectiveness.  Independently, air bags reduce the risk of dying by about 30-40%. When added together with seatbelts, they are synergistic and reduce risk together by 65-70%. We add licensing, speed limits, anti-lock brakes, police enforcement and other things to achieve very good risk reduction (well into the upper 90s). We need to be even more careful when we drive in more dangerous situations, such as in a snow storm.  Protecting yourself (and society) from COVID works exactly the same way—you just can’t see the snow.

Getting Infected is Not “Black and White”

A tiny number of virus organisms placed in the back of a person’s throat one time is not likely to lead to the average person getting “sick” with COVID.  If we placed a tiny number of live viruses in the throats of 1,000 people, less than half would probably get sick. If we placed 1,000 or 1,000,000 viral organisms, the average person probably would get sick.  And if we placed a tiny number of organisms 10 or 100 times in a week, the average person would also likely get sick because of the multiple exposures. This is because even in your throat, your body has protective countermeasures such as mucus and cilia and your blood and other fluids likewise have generic immune and other protections.  They are just not as strong as we need them to be. Even as people get and recover from COVID or get a future vaccine, 100% of the population won’t be 100% protected, but collectively we will be safe.

Your nose reduces the risk of viral particles getting to your throat.  A mask reduces the risk of the viral particles getting to your nose, and social distancing reduces the risk of them getting to your mask. Together, these countermeasures work very well.  

If your nose reduces the risk by 80% (see Caveat 1), and a mask by another 80% and the six foot distance by 80% more, then collectively, the failure rate would be (0.2*0.2*0.2 = .008) = 0.8%. In other words, the collection of countermeasures would be (1 minus the failure rate) = over 99% effective in reducing your chances of getting sick. In this example, any two together would be 96% effective and any one alone would be 80% effective.

So based on this example calculation, if you are standing with your mouth closed and normally breathing close to a COVID carrier as they are speaking to you, you may have a 20% chance of getting sick from that exposure. Add a mask and that would go down to 4%, add distance and that goes to under 1%. Add repeated individual exposures from other people, and your risk gets worse.  Add more countermeasures and your safety improves. The power of each individual countermeasure is much less important than their collective power in protecting you.

So How Does a Mask Really Work?

It hasn’t been measured for COVID, but I suspect that almost any mask, no matter how poor, is more effective than a seat belt is in your car.  Masks that are FDA-cleared have been tested against a benchmark and have a rating. N95 masks have been shown to reduce 95% of passage of a certain size particle over a certain time period in specific laboratory conditions.

When I worked in a pre-COVID ER, I would change masks 6-12 times in a shift.  However well it works in the test lab, wearing the same mask (N95 or not) for a 12-hour ER shift is definitely not as strong as using a fresh one—let alone using the same mask for a week.  But it is far stronger than not wearing any mask at all. N95s have benefits over the simple dust masks typically used during construction work, for example, such as: (a) they are more comfortable to wear, (b) the air is more likely to go through the mask than around it, (c) exhaled air is less likely to fog your glasses, and (d) inhaled air is a bit less restricted.

These are similar characteristics to the beneficial properties of cloth masks.  So I am a big fan of cloth masks, even very simple ones. Any mask has 3 main protective properties:

  1. They make it hard to touch your nose and mouth, thus providing great protection for what is the biggest infection vector in most situations — hand-to-face transmission.
  2. They reduce the exposure of your nose and mouth to viruses in the ambient air (directly breathing in viral spray or viral fog).
  3. They reduce the chance that others will get infected from you when you are sick and don’t know it (and when you are sick and do know it!).

Great masks and poor masks can both stop water droplets.  Most coughs and sneezes are really composed of a fine spray of water droplets soaked with virus.  Stopping the droplets also stops the virus. Dry virus “dies” (see Caveat 2) very quickly so even though individual virus particles are extremely tiny and can enter in the air around a mask, or even go through the mask, they are less likely to infect you than a droplet teeming with viruses being kept “alive” by the droplet. The most likely way a dose of virus will get in your nose or mouth is:

  1. Via touch of your own hand (most likely by far)
  2. Via water droplet-laden virus (cough, sneeze or even breathing)
  3. Via free (or dry) virus “particles” (least worrisome)

The Nuance Behind Mask Testing

I’ve seen many articles that totally miss the mark on the benefits of masks.  Many say things like “good to keep your germs from hurting others, but not very good at protecting yourself” or “we tested 1,2,3 layers of different materials and found x% of particles the size of viruses go right through, therefore these are better than those”.

The testing that matters is way too difficult for anyone to actually do.  It would test 1,000 people who wear “certified masks” versus 1,000 who wear homemade masks of different types and see what percentage of each get infected and what percent get hospitalized or die.  Proving that virus-sized particles “go right through” old bandannas is mostly irrelevant if the most likely way you will get sick is by hand-face touching, where a bandanna might be 98% effective; or by virus-laden water droplets where the bandanna folded 4-times might be 90% effective; even though it is relatively poor at blocking dry, individual virus organisms, which is the least likely way you will get sick.

How and When You Are Likely to be Exposed

It is best to think of exposure scenarios.  Scoring them relative to each other helps to illustrate the relative risk. (numbers are for illustrative purposes only)

Chart illustrating relevant risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in different scenarios

Is a Hospital Mask Better Than Homemade?

In many respects, for home users, a mask made of cloth is comparable to a paper-based, certified medical mask.  The first reason they are comparable is because the protection math works well whether the mask is 70% effective or 90% effective.  In the example above, the total risk reduction would be somewhat better (99.6% vs 98.8%) between using a great mask and a good one when using it as part of a short list of countermeasures working together.  That example math did not include other countermeasures you are likely to also use like washing your hands, or wearing glasses or a shield, or sometimes wearing gloves, or avoiding exposure in the first place.  All of which would drive the total theoretical risk reduction well above 99% no matter which mask you wear.

First, countermeasures only work if you use them.  If you keep a cloth mask in your pocket or purse or hanging around your neck, then when you get near a danger zone you will be more likely to use it.  The N95 and similar masks don’t do well after being scrunched up in your pocket. Second, when you are back to your safe place, you can toss your cloth mask in the washing machine and use it again tomorrow.  Or better yet, buy or make a couple of masks so one mask is always clean.

Treat masks like underwear: use a fresh one every day (and whenever things happen that make you want to change).  

Cloth masks can be fitted, or folded, or worn as a bandanna.  Two layers are much better than one, and three are somewhat better than two.  Older cloth is likely to pass air better, making it easier to breath if you are wearing it tightly, which prevents air from escaping around the edges.  If you are going to have air escape around the edges, arrange your mask so air escapes below your chin. Air turning more corners on the way to your nose makes it tougher for contaminated air to reach your nose, which improves protection.

Consider the inside of your mask as clean, and the outside as contaminated.  When you remove it, you have just touched something contaminated so wash your hands, and then clean the mask as soon as it is practical.

Should I be Wearing Gloves, Too?

Wearing a mask uniformly reduces risk.  Unfortunately, the case for non-medical people wearing gloves is much less clear because it can be totally useless. They become contaminated just as your hands do.  Therefore, wearing gloves for long periods doesn’t help protect others. Both a contaminated glove or contaminated hand can pass a virus either way. If you handle money or touch a door that others will touch, you will both pick up the virus on your gloves and transfer it to the next object or person. If you touch your face wearing gloves, you will be just as likely to drive a virus to your eyes, nose or mouth as if you touched your face with an ungloved hand.  Wearing gloves might help you avoid touching your face, but masks are much better for this.

Gloves are best for temporary situations in which you expect “touch exposure”. Use them, allow them to be contaminated, and when you are away from the touch exposure zone, take them off, wash your hands and get on with life.  

So use them for short periods of time for a specific purpose. For example, I recommend wearing gloves (and a mask) when you go to a store. Put them on when leaving your car, feel free to open doors, touch things, move things, with abandon, however, never touch your face when you are wearing gloves.  Use them when paying, and when typing your pin or signing for your purchase.  When you leave the store remove them and if they are disposable, throw them away.  When you get to your car, open the door, clean your hands with your sanitizer or wipes, and go back to your safe zone.

My 90-something mother lives in an elder-care apartment complex.  There are others there who have COVID. Her apartment is her safe zone.  She wears a mask (just the sleeve from an old shirt) and winter gloves when she ventures into the hall and down the stairs to a common area to pick up her mail.  She can hang on to the railings, punch buttons, open doors and breathe freely as she does her work outside of her safe zone. When she gets back to the apartment, she removes the mask and gloves, puts the mask in the wash (she has the others available if she needs a clean dry one), washes her hands and gets comfortable in her safe zone.  By the way, the winter gloves will become un-contaminated over time as long as they are dry (see below), and they can be used again the next day since the inside is going to stay clean. If you really want to decontaminate them, they can be put in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for a half hour, or set out in the sun.

What About Grocery Bags?

You can go crazy worrying about the bags and store items and packages you bring into your safe zone.  In general, if they are dry, they are relatively safe. You can make them more safe by letting them sit for an hour or more.  Bright sunlight or dry air are both virus killers. Keep your hands away from your face while you are unpacking, and wash your hands after you have finished putting things away, then consider yourself safe. No one is going to succeed at perfect sterile procedures in the real world, so make a routine that makes sense.

Hand Washing & Sanitizers

Wash or sanitize your hands whenever you enter your safe zone every single time, and when you finish working on things that have a chance of being contaminated.  For example, if you are going to do the laundry, get everything loaded in the washing machine and then wash your hands.  Same for unpacking the mail, or groceries, or an Amazon package delivery. While you are working on anything that is potentially contaminated, and every time you are in an unsafe environment, pay attention to your hands.  When you are shopping or in other danger zones, it is not the time to scratch your nose or rub your eyes. And you should be wearing a mask anyway. Once you are back in your safe zone, wash up, and scratch your nose and rub your eyes all you want.  You are in your safe place.

Washing with soap is better than using a sanitizer or wipes, but obviously you need a sink and soap for washing.  Keep a pump or wipes in your car and at your home entrance to do a quick job on the way into your safe zones—mainly to keep your safe zone safe.

If you accidentally shake someone’s hand, or touch something worrisome, keep track of your hands, and keep them off of your face until you can wash or sanitize them.  In some situations, you might consider letting one hand become contaminated while trying to keep the other relatively clean. You might use the same hand to open doors, for example and the other to do less dirty work until you can wash or sanitize them both.

But in general if you are home or in another safe zone, quit worrying and don’t bother thinking about washing and face touching. No one can stay sterile for any extended length of time. Save those worries for shorter periods when you are in danger zones.

What about packages and mail delivered on the front porch?

SIDEBAR: Viruses are always dying.  Viruses only “grow” (replicate making more viruses) when they are in the inside of an infected person (or a bat) cell.  Everywhere else, they are dying. Depending on where they are and their local environment, they die quickly or they die slowly, but they constantly die.  This is the big difference between viruses and bacteria. If you put a million viruses in a drop of water, they will start dying immediately. And there will never be more individual virus particles than you started with.  Bacteria, on the other hand, can be in “standing water” with enough other environmental help to replicate and make a big, stinky, slimy mess. Just one or two bacteria double to 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024 eventually to millions of individual bacteria, in your soup, or milk, or pasta sauce, or whatever.  Viruses never do this. Outside of the infected person they start dying and keep dying. We can take advantage of this fact to help keep us safe.   

For those who think in exponential math, Viruses tend to die via a half-life.  Just like bacteria grow exponentially in the soup, viruses grow exponentially in populations of people.  Exponential growth is described with a “doubling time”.  Similarly, exponential death is described as a “half-life”. Radioactive material has a constant, unchangeable half-life.  The half-life for death of viruses, on the other hand, is a good property in the everyday world and is also easy to speed up, and easy to trust.  

The half-life of virus particles might be 10 seconds on a package on a dry warm day sitting in direct sunlight, or 15 minutes for the same package sitting in a cool humid environment like your basement.  So for the package on the porch in the sun, ten half-lives kills off 99.9% of those virus particles in under two minutes. The same package in your basement might need 2 1/2 hours to accomplish the same kill-off benefit. Sunlight (UV light), heat, dryness, soap, alcohol, bleach all rapidly kill viruses.

So even if the outside of the box of Cheerios was contaminated a few hours ago by a sick shopper touching it, by the time you get it home, 99.9% of it is probably already dead, and by the time you eat breakfast tomorrow, after the box sitting in your dry cupboard, another 99.9% of it is likely dead.  

Please don’t get sucked into breathless worry because the scientist who (correctly) shows that it is “possible” to find some live virus on cardboard after 2 days.  Although true, the risk is infinitesimal. That scientist can find the last two living viruses, but you need a much bigger dose to cause any harm and in most cases that all went away yesterday.

But I work in a Grocery Store (or Warehouse)

Please wear a mask! Wear glasses instead of contacts. Wear something over your shirt or blouse that you can take off in the garage or other staging area before entering your safe zone car or home. Wear gloves or not (your employer probably has a requirement). Either way, wash your hands when you take your mask off and when you take your gloves off. When you quit work, wash before you get to your car.  Take your outer layer off and gloves off before fully entering your car. Sanitize your hands on entering your car. Do it all over again in your garage or mudroom before getting inside your house. Put your clothes and mask in the wash and take a shower when you get home.

Key Takeaways

Social Distance—Stay six feet from people is a good thing. Ten feet is even better.

Safe Zone—For most folks, your house is a safe zone.

  • For you, and for family living with you, your yard is likely a safe zone.
  • When outside, and with no other people nearby, you are in a safe zone
  • For most people, your car should be a safe zone.

Masks—The easiest, most reliable precaution you can take when out of your safe zone

  • If you work with the public, you should absolutely be wearing a mask on the job.
  • If you are in a safe place, a mask has low value, because the risk is already low.
  • If you are going to put the same mask on and off, then treat the outside as contaminated and the inside as safe.
  • If you handle the outside of your mask, then consider your hands as contaminated, and wash them.
  • Don’t touch the inside of your mask with your hands or anything else dirty.
  • Put the cloth mask in the laundry at least daily. (or wash with warm water and soap).
  • Have at least two masks so one can be in the wash and the other clean when needed
  • Don’t bother boiling masks before you wear them. The detergent in your washing machine is easier, stronger, and more likely to succeed by far.

And above all—enjoy your safe zone with your family, friends, cat or dog.

Be Well,

Peter

Caveat 1:  I will use statistical examples and numbers to illustrate how this works.  The numbers I use are estimates only.  I am using them because the exact numbers in each case can be off by huge margins, and the resulting understanding, recommendations and behavior will not change even if a particular situation or study shows instances that are quite different from my examples.   

Caveat 2:  I know that viruses are not “alive” nor “dead” but I will use “dead” to mean that they are no longer capable of infecting anyone and “alive” to mean they still can.   

Business man communicating on cell phone
Health Insurance, Social Distancing and Customer Communications 600 237 Thomas Donhauser

Health Insurance, Social Distancing and Customer Communications

Health insurers are facing great pressure to modernize the way they do business.  With the advent of COVID-19 and social distancing, the need to do business remotely requires a new set of competencies centered around improving their digital competency.  Fortunately, the changes that can make the most difference are ones that are easy to implement. They’re centered around simple and convenient methods to securely exchange documents and messages between your employees and their customers and partners. Competency in this area of digital communications is the expected baseline of customers and partners going forward.

In remote and stay at home environments, traditional methods such as fax, postal mail and mail rooms are either not available, or are inefficient and impractical, putting a company’s revenue and profitability at risk. Wherever there were personal touch points in the past, companies will need a corresponding digital strategy.  As insurers’ staff shift to working remotely, more aspects of their workflow with customers and partners must be digital. Tools like fax and paper forms are just not as practical in a typical home office – whereas convenient secure methods for digital collaboration and document exchange would be.  Those companies that embrace new digital ways of doing business will succeed.  A recent study from Salesforce says about 20% of consumers use portals to communicate with insurers. We believe all aspects of digital business will go up. Consumers expect organizations to provide them with a modern experience to handle not only routine transactions, but also those that have exceptions.  Offering secure document and message exchange, especially if it is integrated into the customer portal or mobile app, provides the simplicity to delight while simultaneously getting work done.  A solution that integrates into the systems already used by employees, such as Outlook, or contact center and helpdesk ticketing systems, provides a simple, seamless experience that increases productivity.

When handling health-related data, there has always been the need to protect PHI. Secure communication is an integral part of how insurers interact with their members and is an essential element for a great customer experience. The need for solutions that not only meet compliance requirements, but which are also easy to implement and use, is critically important. Data security and regulatory compliance shouldn’t get in the way of a great digital experience for employees, customers, and partners.  By succeeding in these areas, you will have a significant competitive advantage over those organizations that treat today’s environment as business as usual.

Ready to learn more about how your organization can modernize the way they do business and improve their customer communications?

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Man using tablet pc against sterile bedroom for clinical data exchange
Digital transformation and clinical data exchange 1000 395 Thomas Donhauser

Digital transformation and clinical data exchange

Digital transformation is all the rage these days and with clinical data exchange, the healthcare industry is no exception.  Numerous government and industry regulations in the last 10 years have “forced” providers, payers and vendors to step up and start implementing digital technologies to replace old paper based ways of working with health care data. Think HIPAA/HITech, Meaningful Use, and more recently MACRA, MIPS and the 21st Century Cures Act.

As often happens with transformative or cultural change – which this surely is – some components are quickly embraced, while others find many roadblocks in their way. As the health industry marches toward digitization, the roadblock we most often hear about is around interoperability – AKA – health clinical data exchange. How do we most effectively and efficiently exchange health data to obtain the best quality of care for the patient – when they need it?  What are the tools we have today to get us closer to interoperability and remove these roadblocks for exchanging health data like patient communications, medical records attachments, referrals and consultations with diagnostic attachments? These are frequent questions.

Finding the path to interoperability roadblock removal

Sometimes the best way to find your own way is to ask others how they got there.  So, let’s do that.
We have a customer who is an integrated health delivery network that has patients making continual transitions from acute care to long-term care, from acute care to visiting nurses, from acute care to home health services – you get the picture.  With all these transitions of care exchanges they had several digital data exchange needs including:

  • Easing electronic health information exchange across an integrated delivery network in compliance with federal health information privacy and security requirements
  • Maximizing workforce productivity by securing Protected Health Information with automated high accuracy content filtering
  • Mobilizing clinical data exchange with referral partners in accordance with national standards

The large volume of patients transitioning to new facilities required a very quick exchange of clinical documentation so it arrived at the network provider before the transitioning patient did.

Tools are available today

Using the health data exchange techniques of email encryption and Direct Messaging that are available today, this customer was able to meet these requirements and achieve on-time delivery of patient information for these frequent transitions of care.

Get more information

This is just one example using tools available now to get past health data exchange roadblocks. You can get more details and download the entire case study for this customer in our resource library. For more information on health data exchange techniques take a look at the whitepaper “21st Century Data Sharing Techniques for Healthcare Delivery Transformation Success”.

Does your organization need help getting past the clinical data exchange roadblock?
Contact Us
Fintech & Insurtech – Competing on a Great Customer Experience 600 237 Jack Villacis

Fintech & Insurtech – Competing on a Great Customer Experience

Is a great customer experience required to grow your account base, and retain accounts in financial services? As the world shifts to a ‘digital first’ orientation – financial services organizations and insurance companies are under pressure to improve the online customer experience, particularly in the face of ‘fintech and insuretech’ startups that use it as a competitive advantage to take market share – and keep it.

Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, recently published the Gartner 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey:

“As part of Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey, executives at 56 financial services firms were asked the extent of what their firms competed/compete/will compete on the basis of CX two years ago, today and in two years. While only 34% of firms said they almost completely or fully competed on this basis two years ago, 59% said they do today and 80% said they will in two years, which is an incredibly rapid shift.”

Source: Gartner “Enhancing Customer Experience Maturity in Commercial Banking,” Financial Services Business Leader Research Team, 13 December 2019.

Again – in two years from now, 80% of the respondents expect that they will be competing almost completely/completely on the basis of the customer experience.

As PWC notes in this new report – Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing Disruption – fintechs and other new market entrants  “typically offer a better customer experience….” – as a competitive advantage.

HOUSTON – DO WE HAVE A CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROBLEM?

Given the onslaught of Fintech and Insurtech companies – which arguably are founded on simplifying the user experience through mobile tech (the ‘Apple–ization’ of finance if you will), what do we believe traditional players / incumbents should do to improve customer experience – especially the online experience?

Yinyang - Provide a seamless experience with self-service and customer service

One area worth investigating is the linkage between your self-service options (portal, app, website) and your customer service channels. Often times self-service options are siloed with limited, or no connection to customer service channels.  That can make it difficult for your self-service customer to get help when the portal does not deliver what they need.

Digital self-service is great for providing an optimal customer experience – until it’s not. Then the customer looks for an easy way to ask for help via a quick message. If that choice can be made readily available in the user interface of the app or portal – great. If it is a channel that can also include rich context and document or image sharing as well – even better. And if the channel is completely integrated into your back-end support infrastructure (core platforms, CRM, contact center, etc) – you’re golden. Unlike many solutions that improve the customer experience, this can be a relatively easy, painless way to move those experience scores up and make you a hero.  Who doesn’t want that!

Want more data to support providing these seamless digital banking or insurance channels? Check out this whitepaper. Want an implementation guide to help formulate a solution? Check out this guide.

Need a great customer experience to grow your account base and retain accounts?

Talk to us to learn more about how we can help your company.

Contact Us
Patient Engagement Blog Header - Health Data, Stethoscope, Glasses
What Does Patient Engagement Really Mean? 600 237 Thomas Donhauser

What Does Patient Engagement Really Mean?

We often hear terms such as patient engagement and they become the latest “term du jour”.  But what does that really mean and what is your organization doing to help promote such activity?  Is patient engagement a part of your organization’s strategy to maintain customer loyalty and grow your business?

Patient engagement is much more than just offering a portal or app that your patients can use to schedule appointments or see their latest EOBs.  Patient engagement is more about a philosophy – a way that your organization will interact with your patients or members.  This interaction needs to be bi-directional.  Providing your patients with access to their health information may also be a part of this strategy.  However, patient access to their data is not enough.  What is critical is the need to help patients by engaging them and making sure they understand what their data is “telling” them.

The idea is to provide patients with the necessary information, guiding them and ensuring they are engaged with their own care, and making the right choices. This will lead to better outcomes and ultimately to a lower cost of care.  This level of engagement requires that providers are active participants.  By gaining a holistic view of the patient, then you, the provider, will become an active partner in the patient’s care.  The need to run duplicative tests can be avoided. The ability to remind patients if they miss a prescription refill will help in establishing your organization as a trusted partner in the patient’s care.  Some patients will obviously be more active participants than others, but if you are able to provide them with things like educational resources or support groups – this can also lead to a richer experience for the patient. The result – they will view your organization as their trusted source for their health needs.

Patient engagement requires patient data

In our “information everywhere” world, patients can be easily overwhelmed with data.  In today’s technology invasive environment, with wearables and the many health apps that are designed to help us, how do we make sense of it all?  The need to pull together the many sources of data available to us as providers or as patients is leading to the advent of yet another enabling technology – the personal health record.  The idea of a personal health record is not necessarily new, but we now see various technology companies, foundations, pharmaceutical companies as well as payers contributing to the personal health record, making it easier for the patient to truly be at the center of their care.  These technologies are more user friendly to the patient and the provider.  These applications make it easier to both collect and transmit personal health records, which when fully aggregated, can lead to greater insights for care management. They should also be particularly useful to everyone concerned with chronic disease management.

The bottom-line?

As a member of the health care ecosystem, the question you now need to ask is how will I engage and bring further value to my patient? What technologies can I enable for my patients to make true patient engagement a reality for my patients?

We believe that as this push for greater visibility and data access grows, DataMotion is well positioned to be the conduit for much of this communication flow.

How did one organization use DataMotion Direct Secure Messaging to improve care coordination, provider satisfaction, and CMS quality metrics?

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