Don Forgie, one of my key mentors, regularly reminds me that the creation of a new communication channel does not eliminate the previous ones. They may change in priority and usage, but, they remain. Recent work on an information system for health providers brings this point home. ‘They won’t look at the computer.’ To reach certain busy people, one has to literally put the message into their hand.
Fax meets this requirement extremely well. With confirmed reception (to the extent that the machine, if not the person, received it), and the handy portable document format of paper, a well crafted alert meets basic needs extremely well. Only slightly longer to distribute than email.
Placing a copy of the message into a web archive and providing user selectable options for email delivery pretty much covers all the electronic bases.