August 10, 2016

Facility Alert System developed by UAB faculty gains interest at AAMC meeting

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Pam Bounelis, Ph.D., assistant dean for Biomedical Research, and John Taylor, director of Information Technology in the UAB School of Medicine, gave a poster presentation and led a breakout session focusing on their Facility Alert System at the Association of American Medical Colleges GBA/GIP Joint Spring Meeting.

Their breakout session, “Streamlining Communication: The University of Alabama at Birmingham SOM’s Facility Alert System,” detailed why and how they created this software, as well as its capabilities and results.

The Facility Alert System allows email and text message blasts to be sent directly to affected units or building areas during a disastrous or disruptive event, such as a power outage or flood.  Since its implementation for the School of Medicine in 2011, the Facility Alert System has been a welcome utility for faculty and staff members within the school. A quarterly test of the system, which requires and tracks responses to the alert, has received responses from nearly 90 percent of the participants each quarter.

Bounelis and Taylor attribute the high response rates and positive feedback to how targeted the alert messages are—participants only get alerts related to the building(s) that relate to their responsibilities.

“If it were a blast to the entire campus, they would likely dismiss it, assuming it doesn’t pertain to them,” Taylor said. “But when they get the message through this system, they know that there’s something going on very close to them and they need to address it.”

In addition to the response rates, the system also allows for long-term tracking of disruptive events. By keeping a log of every alert sent out through the system, Bounelis and Taylor have been able to identify patterns within certain buildings, taking note of which buildings have chronic problems with specific types of disruptive events.

“There was quite a bit of interest from representatives of other medical schools at our presentation,” Bounelis said. “We’ve even had a follow-up conversation with another school that is interested in licensing our technology.”