How are you communicating with your alumni? If you are like most treatment programs, it’s a mixture of follow up phone calls, emails, texts and social platforms. Your program may be vulnerable to several risks if you are using text and social platforms though. Risks include privacy violations, lack of continuity and the potential for inappropriate boundaries between staff and alumni. Leaders should evaluate these risks and find ways to balance the benefit of engagement with alumni with the potential liabilities. The good news is, with the right mix of technology and procedures all of these risks can be mitigated.
Your alumni team works tirelessly to build relationships and support patients post discharge. Staff want to know the fears and struggles of your alumni and find ways to help. However, when these conversations are happening on digital platforms, there is a risk of privacy violations. Are you using a HIPAA-compliant text messaging platform? If not, do you have two-factor authentication to make sure only the right people have access? Digital tools are very powerful and are the preferred communication channels for most people, we just have to be mindful of how best to protect sensitive and confidential information.
Small programs may only have one staff member who spends 20% of their time or less on alumni engagement. It may seem harmless for them to use their personal phone to communicate with alumni through calls or text messages. But, what happens if that staff member is let go or leaves? Because they have been using their personal phone, all of your alumni engagement efforts are now gone. Your alumni need a solid foundation, staff come and go, but it’s vital to maintain connection through those transitions.
Front line alumni staff may also be young, and sometimes just out of treatment themselves. Supporting alumni is hard, emotionally challenging work. Communication can happen at all hours of the day or night. Crossing personal and professional relationship boundaries is something that can put your program at risk. Do you have visibility or access into the text and digital messages between your staff and alumni? If not, this is a blindspot that needs to be addressed.
Technology can help you mitigate these risks. Focus on tools that are HIPAA-compliant and allow you access to see all communication between staff and alumni. Never authorize communication on personal devices, it’s not worth the risks. You have an opportunity and an obligation to provide support and resources for your alumni. Technology today can make it easier than ever for you to stay connected and engaged in a meaningful way.
CaredFor works with 100+ programs to help them improve outcomes, increase referrals and enhance the overall experience. Our engagement app is branded as your program, is HIPAA-compliant and offers the visibility you need to ensure that alumni engagement is done right. If strengthening your alumni outreach is a strategic priority in 2020, then schedule some time with our team.