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Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

Value in Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)

Healthcare Information Technology

In a digitized world, one of the greatest conveniences is health information technology (HIT). Considering nearly everyone in the US is a consumer of healthcare, there are numerous benefits to adopting electronic health records. The evidence report, Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology, outlines a few. Health information technology is a means of electronically storing, recording, accessing, or transferring a patient's medical records. This includes health and medical history. Not only is this paperless and perhaps more reliable, but it allows for "clinical decision-making and disease management." It also allows for prescription filling, test ordering, and care reminding. For example, the system can provide alerts for necessary patient vaccinations or send a prescription to be filled at a pharmacy convenient to the patient. Overall, health information technology improves the efficiency of healthcare - a highly profitable, nationwide business.

However, adopting HIT is costly and requires change in the organization. It is considered an investment, but perhaps a necessary investment in terms of economic advancement. In non-financially focused studies concerning adoption of HIT, areas of improvement included increased productivity by the healthcare provider, improved patient safety and, subsequently, fewer adverse drug events (ADE) and time spent in hospitals to treat ADEs, and better physician decision-making. For example, the ability to reduce the "ordering of redundant clinical laboratory tests could produce an annual savings of $35,000 in laboratory charges." It is economically beneficial to improve the efficiency of healthcare.

In a day and age where nearly everything is digitized, it is only fitting a business as widely used as healthcare should follow suit. Adopting health information technology will improve provider efficiency while increasing consumer centeredness. Electronic health records are more personalized, more organized and more efficient. Although implementation of HIT is an expensive adjustment, benefits for both provider and consumer are apparent. Healthcare efficiency is important to society as a whole.

With efficiency of digital access to healthcare records comes the necessity of increased data security measures. The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, was passed to establish a national framework for security standards and protection of confidentiality with regard to health care data and information. Fortunately, Giva makes HIPAA compliance very easy for our customers. The data center, hardware and software infrastructure of Giva's cloud help desk & customer service software meet the very strict HIPAA compliance regulations. See 7 Key Elements of Giva's HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Help Desk Software for Electronic Health & Medical Records.

Context-Focused Giving, Part 2

Business & Communities Philanthropic Partners

In part 1, we introduced context-focused giving as corporate philanthropy and strategy combining to achieve both social and economic gains, examining how this can be done by analyzing various factors, based on the Harvard Business Review publication, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy," by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, last time including factor conditions and demand conditions. Here, we continue on with the other two elements: context for strategy and rivalry and related and supporting industries.

Context for strategy and rivalry has to do with the rules of business engagement in which a company operates. A context-focused giving strategy that works to open local markets to trade, that is governed by policies that reward fair competition and deter corruption, has a clear and widespread social impact that benefits communities and citizens as well as the economic benefit of operating in an amenable business environment. Twenty-six U.S. corporations have engaged in giving targeted toward improving their context for strategy and rivalry by joining forces with Transparency International in their fight to end corruption and create an intersection of business, government and society that places a high value on transparency and accountability. Their work and corporate partnerships has a significant and far-reaching impact on society and the economy.

Companies rely on other related and supporting industries to operate. Philanthropy that is focused on generating benefits and improvements for related businesses or local suppliers allows for corporate growth and partnership opportunities, along with a better use of time and resources: "Proximity enhances responsiveness, exchange of information, and innovation, in addition to lowering transportation and inventory costs" (Porter and Kramer, 5). American Express has used context-focused giving to identify the travel industry as an important related industry where efforts and resources could be used to generate social benefits and economic gains for American Express. They have provided significant funding to Travel and Tourism Academies that train students for careers with travel-related companies such as airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Their program has improved educational and job opportunities for people in communities served, as well as a competitive advantage for local travel clusters. Because American Express relies heavily on travel-spending, their global brand is also a part of local travel clusters, and they have a stake in these clusters' success.

Shifting your corporate giving strategy to context-focused giving is a rigorous process that should seek and consider input from management throughout your company in identifying a corporate giving strategy aimed toward improving competitive context. One question to ask when examining your company's competitive context is, "What constraints, tangible or intangible, prevent or limit our productivity and growth?" The more specific you can get when identifying areas for improved context, the better foundation you will have for beginning to research, plan and implement a successful context-focused giving strategy. Porter and Kramer stress the importance of rigorously tracking and recording the results of your initiative, both socially and economically, to provide a framework for creating evidence-based improvements and modifications in your initiative. They also encourage forming partnerships with other stakeholders, the benefits of collective action being enhanced efficacy and shared costs.

Businesses thrive from good strategy; there is no reason why the extensive research and planning that goes into other areas of corporate strategy should not be applied to corporate philanthropy. Corporations have more financial and intellectual resources than most non-profits that can provide unique perspectives and solutions to societal issues. Corporate Social Responsibility does not have to be separate from Corporate Strategy; context-focused giving is a framework for developing philanthropic initiatives with clear social and economic benefits.

5 Do's and Don'ts for Any Job Interview

Interview Questions

Job interviews can be a nerve wracking experience. However, with proper preparation, you can make any interview work in your favor and impress your interviewer. Here are 5 do's and don'ts to follow:

  1. DO have a list of prepared questions to ask about the company and the position.

    Here is a list to get you started:

    • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
    • What are the day-to-day responsibilities for this job?
    • If I were to be accepted into this position, where would you like me to focus my energies first?
    • What are some of the skills and abilities needed to succeed in this job?
    • What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
    • Is there anything I could do in advance to prepare for this position?
    • Can you describe an ideal employee?

    DON'T say "no" when asked if you have any questions or act like a deer in headlights when it is your turn to speak.

    Here is a list of what not to ask in an interview:

    • What does your company do?
    • Avoid "yes" or "no" questions. Good questions are open ended and invite conversation.
    • Never ask about background checks, time off, salary, benefits, etc,.
    • How quickly can I be promoted?
    • Does your company monitor emails, internet usage, and phone calls?
    • If I were to be hired, when can I start applying to other positions within the company?

     

  2. DO formulate a strategy.

    Before you go to the interview, decide on three or four messages you want to convey throughout the interview. These messages should show a connection between what you have achieved and what is needed to succeed at the job. Interviewers tend to become invested in stories more than they do facts and data from your resume. Be sure to rehearse your stories beforehand.


    DON'T ramble on about topics unrelated to the job or the question.

    Be sure to keep your answers concise and on topic.

     

  3. DO listen carefully and pay close attention to the interviewer's questions and instructions.


    DON'T leave your phone on ring or vibrate.

     

  4. DO show up to the interview well-dressed.

    Here are a few tips on how to dress-to-impress:

    • Ladies: Wear a dark suit pant or skirt with a tailored blouse and dark shoes (low to medium heel) or a classic style dress with natural toned tights/stockings.
    • Gentleman: Wear a dark suit with a light colored long sleeved button-up shirt and a tie with a minimal design. Dark socks and shoes are recommended. A less conservative choice would be khakis or slacks with a blazer and long sleeved button-up shirt.

    DON'T show up wearing clothing that is too tight or revealing or too brightly colored.

    Make sure your socks match and that your shoes are closed-toed. Do not wear any fragrance or cologne.

     

  5. DO convey comfortable body language.

    Be sure to sit up straight, maintain eye contact (but don't stare), and smile often. Your tone should be reflected in your facial expressions so that you appear genuine.


    DON'T slouch or lean too far forward.

    Try to avoid crossing your arms or legs, nodding excessively, fidgeting, or looking around too much.

     

To help you be further prepared of what kinds of questions might be asked of you, or for interviewers looking for a comprehensive list of interview questions and answers for any job candidate, please see Giva's whitepaper titled "Interview Questions and Answers for Any Job Candidate."

Metrics for Non-profits: Improving Volunteer and Donor Engagement: Part 2

Metrics/graphs for Volunteerism and Non-profits

See "Metrics for Non-profits: Improving Volunteer and Donor Engagement: Part 1" here.

Metrics from volunteer surveys can be used to assess volunteers' motivations, goals and needs to ensure that they feel satisfied from their experiences and have their needs and expectations met. The more pleased a volunteer is with their experience, the more likely they are to continue to volunteer and give. Manpower is often a limited resource at mission-driven organizations, so volunteer retention is essential. Equally as important as volunteer retention is volunteer impact; metrics will help to determine volunteer impact, not just by hours served, but also the degree to which volunteer programs generated positive outcomes for individuals and communities served.

Volunteers and donors look to give their time and effort to effective organizations and programs, those with meaningful and measured social value. Just like people are more likely to buy a product with strong customer reviews and high sales, volunteers and donors are more likely to become invested in supporting an organization that has proven social value. Root Cause, a non-profit research and consulting firm, performed a study entitled "Informed Giving: What Donors Want and How Non-profits can Provide It." According to the study, non-profits should appeal to donors by making a clear connection between a donor's gift and its impact. Metrics serve as credible means of support for a non-profit's social value: "As many as 75 percent of donors use information about the non-profit's impact, while 63 percent use information about the social issue the non-profit addresses" ("Informed Giving").

Donors conduct research through a variety of methods when choosing where to invest. If non-profits want to attract these donors, they will need to make information about their impact readily available, in multiple locations and formats. Money can be spent more wisely if a non-profit uses metrics to focus their funding and cut extraneous or ineffective programs, grants, etc. More and more corporations are becoming involved in social responsibility initiatives. As non-profits compete to earn the loyalty of these previously untapped financial resources, proving social value is more important than ever.

Not only can reports and metrics be used as supporting material to show potential donors proof of an organizational social value and impact, but reports can also be analyzed to identify prospective recurring members and donors. Metrics for evaluating donor engagement provide insight on sound practices. In his article, "5 Metrics Every Development Director Should Know," Mike Spear stresses the importance of internal benchmarks for improving and growing donor-relations. Year-over-year fundraising metrics can be used to compare growth and set new goals. He also suggests calculating a "Donor Acquisition Cost" to measure the cost-to-benefit ratio of inputs and outputs from non-profits' fundraising and donor engagement programs. Spear notes the importance of collecting data on three donor-specific characteristics: Donor-attrition, donor-lifetime and donor-value. By looking at a complete picture of a specific donor profile, non-profits can once again target their efforts and use their findings to improve donor-relations and engagement.

Non-profits can reap great benefits from utilizing a cloud-based CRM software system. Using metrics, non-profits can generate reports that measure their social impact and the efficacy of their volunteer and donor programs. Metrics provide the evidence for sound strategies for improving and growing any organization. Volunteer and donor engagement are just two areas of a non-profit's structure that can be improved through the use of metrics. Many more aspects of a non-profit's work can be enhanced using data analysis. Cloud-based CRM software provides non-profits with an easy system for collecting data, generating reports, and enhancing strategy to realize their full potential.

Adapting CSR for Small Business

Businessman Giving to the Community

Discussions about corporate social responsibility (CSR) are often reserved for large multinational companies. Their size and durability gives them an opportunity to tackle some long-term societal challenges. However, it is false to conclude that corporate citizenship is exclusively the domain of larger enterprises. In fact, many small companies do more for their local communities per capita than their larger brethren. CSR occupies a different place in these firms. Many practices, from starting a CSR initiative to tracking results, are done quite differently in small enterprises. Regardless, corporate citizenship continues to be an important part of the small business community. It is worth examining in some detail.

First Steps

For many small businesses, the idea of implementing a set of CSR policies seems daunting. What is often forgotten is how ingrained many of these policies already are in the companies' structures. Paul Hohnen for International Institute for Sustainable Development in the document "Corporate Social Responsibility: An Implementation Guide for Business" has compiled a checklist and set of reminders (pg 40) for small businesses thinking about their CSR policies. The document recommends assigning an individual, perhaps a student or consultant, to gather relevant information. It is important for small businesses to examine their policies from implementation to evaluation. Their small size actually makes tracking easier. The close relationship many employees have with the company's stakeholders (in particular consumers and suppliers) simplifies the examination process considerably. Understanding what can be considered CSR is an important first step for many small firms.

Hohnen offers some interesting examples of small CSR initiatives that might be easy to adopt. These suggestions include implementing an environmental management system, making some services or products free for local nonprofits, and sharing CSR lessons with other small businesses. Even something as simple as improving the company's recycling policies can be considered CSR. It is important for small firms to remember that the absence of a detailed CSR report does not mean the company is neglecting CSR; certain aspects of corporate citizenship might simply be taken for granted.

Identifying Relevance

It is increasingly evident that CSR means something very different for small businesses. An interesting article in Forbes by N. Craig Smith titled "When it Comes to CSR, Size Matters" offers an interesting perspective on why this difference arises. The author suggests that because company founders are often still running their businesses, CSR is a more personal matter for small companies. Ensuring commitment from management is thus not as big a challenge. Small companies and their employees also tend to have a more personal stake in the community. This notion makes programs like job training and infrastructure improvements quite relevant to the business. Small firms are less concerned with reputation-related pressures and more focused on ensuring a positive local environment.

 

Ultimately, small businesses should be reminded that they are often pursuing CSR initiatives even if they are not explicitly defined that way. It can be very beneficial to identify these policies if the company is in a position to do so. The goal does not have to be to tackle a major societal challenge like a multinational company. Rather, small businesses should be focused on identifying projects that lend themselves to the company's expertise. Small businesses are affected by many of the same CSR trends as their larger counterparts. Their challenge is to adapt solutions to their particular situations.

Context-Focused Giving, Part 1

Business & Communities Philanthropic Partners

Context-focused giving is a method through which corporate philanthropy and strategy are combined to achieve both social and economic gains. The basic idea behind context-focused giving is giving that benefits the environment in which a company operates and, thus, that company's competitive advantage. More specifically, context-focused giving considers the contextual conditions most important to a company’s strategies and industry, and targets their philanthropy toward improving one of these contexts so that the community and the company both reap rewards from the efforts. When companies are able to clearly identify how their philanthropic initiatives are not only creating good for society, but also for the company, charitable expenditures will not suffer from lack of justification in terms of bottom-line benefit.

In their Harvard Business Review publication, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy," Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer dispel the "myth of strategic philanthropy" in cause-related marketing efforts. Cause-related marketing, or corporate giving campaigns that often include a vague link between a corporation and a non-profit campaign, are largely intended to benefit the corporation's public image, acting as forms of publicity and marketing to generate goodwill. They argue that most corporate giving programs lack any solid connection to a company's strategy, and that "the acid test of good corporate philanthropy is whether the desired social change is so beneficial to the company that the organization would pursue the change even if no one ever knew about it" (Porter and Kramer 8).

Context-focused giving involves careful research and analysis as to how Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives dually create social benefits and benefits to one or more areas of their competitive context: factor conditions, demand conditions, context for strategy and rivalry, and related and supporting industries. Company's can engage in successful context-focused giving by identifying contextual conditions most important to their strategy and the health of their industry, and developing a giving program that improves the nature of this context, creating social and economic benefits. Just as individuals are impacted and shaped by their environment, the same is true for corporations. Context-focused giving provides an avenue for which to benefit both the individual and the company.

Factor Conditions refers to the size, quality and nature of the specialized inputs necessary for a company to operate. This includes a company's capital resources, its physical, administrative, information, scientific and technological infrastructure, and the availability of adequately trained employees along with natural resources. DreamWorks SKG implemented a successful context-focused giving strategy geared toward improving education and training for low-income students in Los Angeles. Partnering with Los Angeles Community College District and local schools, DreamWorks created a multifaceted program that combined classroom learning, mentoring and internships to provide low-income students in the area with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the entertainment industry. The program had the social benefit of improved education and better employment opportunities in the community (context), as well as the economic benefit of expanding DreamWorks' availability of specially trained workers. Even for the specially trained graduates who did not go on to work for DreamWorks and instead worked for other companies, including competitors, DreamWorks could still count on the benefit of their project in improving the entertainment industry as a whole. DreamWorks is a part of an entertainment cluster, or "a geographic concentration of interconnected companies, suppliers, related industries, and specialized institutions in a particular field..." (Porter and Kramer, 4).

Corporations may choose to focus on the context of demand conditions when developing corporate strategic philanthropy, or conditions related to the size of the local market, customer sophistication, and potential areas of growth and change in regard to customer demands and needs, both locally and globally. One area that corporations have targeted is improving the sophistication of customers, and thus their demand for more sophisticated products and services. Apple Computer has targeted customer sophistication as a part of a long-standing context-focused corporate giving program that provides schools with Apple products. This creates social benefit of improved education and access to learning products in low-income areas while also expanding Apple's customer base.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Metrics for Non-profits: Improving Volunteer and Donor Engagement: Part 1

Metrics/graphs for Volunteerism and Non-profits

Metrics are important to any good business strategy; they help to inform decisions about how to manage projects and achieve the best outcomes. The necessity of metrics is not isolated in the private/for-profit sector alone; non-profits should also rely on metrics to develop informed, evidence-based approaches for resolving social and environmental issues. Unfortunately, many non-profit organizations lack the necessary funds and resources to obtain and utilize metrics. The good news is that tech companies have a lot to offer to non-profit management in helping to streamline procedures and enhance outcomes. Volunteer engagement is one important aspect of a non-profit that should be analyzed using data and metrics. Constituent Relationship Management software allows non-profits to gauge volunteerism and use this information to ultimately increase volunteer recruitment, engagement and retention.

In their recent donor survey, tech-research firm Software Advice found that many non-profits do not collect any data on volunteers. Of the 45% of non-profits that did not collect volunteer data, 34% attributed this to a lack of resources and tools. Cloud-hosted software tools, like those provided by Giva, can be customized to fit the needs of any strategic organization. For non-profits, these metrics will be important to understand how and how much volunteers contribute in order to develop sound strategies for growth. Reports will generate essential key performance indicators that measure things like campaign success rates, and patterns in donor and volunteer behaviors.

Cloud-based software can be adapted to serve as volunteer management software, collecting data and creating reports that can be used to inform strategies for improving the size, scope and quality of volunteer programs. For example, by collecting and analyzing volunteer data from a particular campaign, an organization can value that program's social return on investment. Reports will provide a basis for determining how successful said campaign was and if there are any volunteers or volunteer behaviors that generated the most impact. By using metrics to target effective behaviors or individual volunteers, non-profits can better understand best practices and improve the results of future endeavors.

Volunteer-metrics also help organizations to make the most use of volunteers, based upon their skills and knowledge. A simple volunteer survey can generate reports about volunteers' skill sets and areas of expertise. Using a method called skills-based volunteerism, non-profits can maximize the impact of volunteers by giving them roles related to their unique strengths and capacities. Skills-based volunteerism allows non-profits to reap rewards similar to those from consulting or contracting services but on a pro-bono basis. Furthermore, volunteers can teach non-profit workers a great deal. In their study, "Measuring the Results: the Business Case for Skills-Based Volunteerism," Common Impact found that 77% of the non-profits they helped to implement skills-based volunteerism reported learning new skills.

Volunteer metrics help non-profits to recruit, retain and utilize volunteers most effectively. Volunteer data also creates the foundation for monetizing volunteer efforts. Non-profits can get an estimate of the monetary return on investment from their volunteer engagement by multiplying the Independent Sector's estimated value for volunteer time, $22.55 per hour as of 2013, times (x) total volunteer hours. For more accurate reporting, the Independent Sector recommends looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' hourly wage rates by occupation to monetize specialized skills-based volunteer hours. All of this reporting is made easier by cloud-service Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that generates data and reports. For non-profits that often lack adequate funding, volunteerism significantly reduces overhead costs. This is especially true when metrics are used to implement skills-based volunteerism.

Giva's Compliance with EU & Switzerland Safe Harbor Framework

Giva Safe Harbor Compliance

In October of 1998, the European Commission created a Directive on Data Protection, which prohibits transferring personal data to non-European Union countries that do not meet a certain level of privacy protection. The EU felt this was necessary as it and the United States approach handling data privacy in different ways.

In order to allow US companies to quickly comply with EU standards, the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce worked together to provide a framework by which organizations could certify their compliance. The program is called the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor program, and certifying to the framework allows U.S. organizations to join this program.

With Switzerland, their Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner also worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce to create a separate "Safe Harbor" framework, for the same purposes as the EU "Safe Harbor" framework.

Giva values the privacy of its users and visitors, and Giva respects the privacy definitions of not only the U.S., but the other organizations around the world that have decided upon their own standards they feel are best for the people they represent. With this, Giva has completed the self-certification process as defined in the Safe Harbor framework for both the European Union and Switzerland.

For more information about Giva's Safe Harbor compliance, please visit our Privacy Policy page.

CSR Starts from the Top

As Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has assumed a greater place in contemporary business dialogue, discussion has been increasingly centered on the importance of senior executives in its implementation. While ideally socially responsible endeavors are practiced at all levels of a firm, it is clear that a business cannot become a leader in CSR if its decision-makers are hesitant about the benefits of corporate responsibility. Certainly, it helps a company's charitable practices if its CEO is personally altruistic. The example that executives at Microsoft have set has helped establish the CSR culture present throughout the entire company. But increasingly, the most important role executives play in CSR is their ability to anticipate its long-term payoffs. Rather than viewing corporate responsibility as a short-term cost, wise leaders understand its long-term payoffs such as the boost it provides to a company's reputation, employee morale, and sustainability in certain locales.

A look at IBM's 2008 Global CEO Study provides greater insights into how CEO's view their own roles. Each understands his or her role as an individual capable of looking at the company as a whole. This means they are able to understand trends and their customers/stakeholders' interests. Across the biennial CEO studies three external areas continue to assume greater importance: socioeconomic factors, environmental issues, and people skills. Each of these areas is linked to CSR, meaning CEOs are increasingly recognizing its importance to their entire business. Most importantly, senior executives are able to take a look at their entire supply chain and enterprise, giving them the opportunity to implement CSR values throughout the business. While socially-conscious employees may be able to improve the behavior of their departments, no one has the resources to enact policies throughout the company like those at the top. Given their holistic view and ability to rally workers, top executives are absolutely essential for the growth of CSR.

Non-Profit/Business Partnerships

As social challenges merge with business challenges in the contemporary world, corporations are beginning to look for opportunities to engage in shared value initiatives. Increasingly, shared value projects involve partnerships between NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and businesses designed to address common issues. When these partnerships are formed correctly, they can be instrumental in tackling some of the toughest problems currently faced by the business community.

Successful partnerships occur when each party complements the strengths of the other. Businesses are able to provide a conglomeration of resources that many nonprofit organizations lack. They are able to implement change on a massive scale. This opportunity allows nonprofits to expand their impact and take on initiatives that require many resources. Businesses also provide a natural discipline that ensures all agreed upon solutions are sustainable in the private sector. For their part, NGOs are able to fill certain knowledge gaps in the private sector. Some understand specific cultures and relationships in under-served markets, while others are attentive to the specific needs of different communities. Often NGOs are called upon to evaluate unknown areas of the market. Valuations of areas like biodiversity are critical for businesses looking to transform their supply chain.

The partnership between Coca Cola and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is exemplary of a successful shared value relationship. The WWF began working with Coca Cola in 2007 to conserve freshwater resources. The partnership has been extended through 2020 and will now focus on 11 key regions of freshwater basins. The two parties have also elected to expand the initiative to other conservation areas. By 2020 Coca Cola hopes to reduce carbon embedded in drinks by 25%, begin implementing plant-based renewable packaging, and ensure all ingredients are sustainably sourced. The WWF's detailed knowledge of biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate change is an essential tool in each of these projects. By developing environmental models and a system to evaluate the tradeoff between conserving biodiversity/ecosystems and minimizing costs, the WWF hopes to embed environmental sustainability into decision making. Coca Cola hopes to demonstrate the business case for investing in natural capital. The two parties have much to gain from the joint venture. If their actions are successful, society will gain too.

 

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