Improving Team Communication: Using SMS for Real Time Alerts at CHR Health
CHR Health is a comprehensive, nonprofit behavioral health organization providing over 60 different services across Eastern and Central Connecticut. With approximately 750 employees spread across 30 locations, effective team communication to the organization’s dispersed staff is crucial.
Michelle Ruby heads up IT for all of CHR Health’s locations and part of her role was to identify what to do in different types of scenarios, including emergency situations. If there was an active shooter, for instance, at one of their locations, how would they communicate and more importantly – how quickly? She realized she needed a communication tool that was easy to use and would allow her team reach staff in real-time.
Text Message Alerts – An Additional Way to Communicate
CHR Health already had set up a notification system, but according to Ruby, it only worked where their VOIP system existed. “From the main office, I can send a page to each of our large locations that has VOIP, and this message will go to particular people who in turn will make announcements in their building. This didn’t cover our mobile workforce, however. We would not want someone to walk into a building if something was going on. We found that emailing and calling people was too lengthy a process.”“
As part of their ongoing review of the organization’s emergency plans, Ruby knew there was room for improvement when it came to employee communication. “Lots of folks have company cell phones and personal cell phones, so we thought text messaging was an additional way to communicate.”
CHR Health selected TextMarks to provide text message alerts for urgent situations like winter storms, outages, active shooter or other emergencies. In order to encourage adoption of the service, Ruby distributed instruction cards to executive team members who were authorized to send text messages. In addition to the executive team, she created an “All Staff” group so that SMS alerts could go out to everyone at CHR Health that opted in. Down the road, the team plans to create other subgroups, possibly by location and by department.
SMS Team Communication Reduces Help Desk Calls
With the help of TextMarks support team, Ruby was able to quickly set up her text groups and familiarize herself with sending messages. CHR Health has successfully used the SMS system to send out text alerts during severe weather, letting staff know to work from home if they were not required to be in the office. It wasn’t until a major email outage that her department and executive staff realized just how useful SMS was to keeping the organization informed.
Ruby’s team was in the process of developing communication policies around who would be able to send texts and training staff how to use the text system when the organization experienced the email outage. CHR Health turned to TextMarks to keep everyone informed. “I was able to quickly send all staff updates by text message throughout the day and into the weekend. We let them know the IT team was working to restore email services as soon as possible.”
By using TextMarks, Ruby not only estimates a significant decrease in support calls into the service desk, but she has also received positive feedback from employees because they knew what was going on at all times.”We increased our text subscribers from 100 to almost 500, so more employees have opted in to getting these important texts.”
“CHR Health selected TextMarks because it was simple and straightforward. But mostly, the support has been wonderful. They walked us through everything step by step and it has really been a pleasure working with TextMarks.”