Recently, Senior Housing News published an article related to Senior Housing Technology entitled “Why Senior Living is a Prime Target for Hackers.” The article focused on the business-side risk of data hacks and breaches, but in senior housing, there’s also a risk that seniors will unwittingly be duped into giving away their own personal information.
The unfortunate reality of a litigious society is that where there is risk, there is the potential for liability for senior housing operators. Fortunately, taking proactive measures to minimize risk can reduce the likelihood of litigation and typically serve as a shield if litigation is instituted. There are two areas where owners and operators should take measures to guard against risks of data disclosure: the senior housing facility’s technology and the education provided to residents.
Protecting Company Technology
As pointed out in the Senior Housing News article, there isn’t yet an absolute best way to protect against data breaches in the senior housing or closely-related healthcare industry. Companies are still figuring out the best practices, which change by necessity with technology. Experts suggest looking to state and federal regulations as a starting point to determine if there are baseline mandatory standards. Beyond that, engaging staff and increasing their awareness, conducting compliance and vulnerability tests, talking to your business associates and their vendors (you may be liable for their errors), and protecting “data-at-rest” are all steps for avoiding data breaches suggested by Healthcare IT News.
Seniors have a variety of proficiencies when it comes to technology. Some have used it for work and other purposes, and may be as “connected” and technologically proficient as their younger peers. Others peck at their phone and computer keyboards, slowly getting their message across. And still others have managed to largely avoid computer and mobile technology altogether.
The seniors who fall into the less-proficient group can benefit from basic training on avoiding online scams. Basic tips like not giving away important personal information online, not clicking links from unknown senders, and typing in website addresses for sites where personal information is transmitted (e.g. banking, car and health insurance, etc), can all protect their interests when operating on the Internet. In a senior housing facility with full-time staff, seniors should be encouraged to ask when in doubt about the legitimacy of a website or e-mail solicitation.
Sometimes seniors are off-put by the risk that technology can pose. To help seniors understand that the benefit is often greater than the risk, it can be useful to gently remind seniors about the risks that have always existed, such as unscrupulous telemarketers, door-to-door salesman, and even fraudulent snail mail solicitations.
Let Us Help
Cambridge Realty Capital understands that operating a senior housing facility of any type requires managing many competing priorities, from ensuring regulation-compliant staffing numbers to financing renovations to managing administrative and clinical staff. It’s a lot. Cambridge can make it easier by serving as your expert and partner in your facility’s finance needs. Contact us today to talk about how we can help.