Over the past two decades, the healthcare industry has experienced a technology revolution. Healthcare operations ranging from hospitals to clinics, assisted living facilities (ALFs), and nursing homes have adopted a broad range of technologies designed to improve both efficiency and patient safety. In ALFs, technology represents a path forward, promoting safe accommodations and superior healthcare delivery for seniors. Unfortunately, the adoption of technologies also increases senior living cyber liabilities. In this guide, we will explore the relationship between ALFs, technological advances, and liability issues these facilities face. The goal is to provide facility managers and insurance agents the details you will need to make informed decisions about your insurance needs.
Technology in Assisted Living Facilities
Most people are familiar with electronic health records which are increasingly used by the healthcare industry to track and monitor patient information. There have been many other technology-based advances, however, and ALFs have been adopting a number of new systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Senior Housing News indicates that as many as 80% of survey respondents have increased spending on technology in 2020. 87% of survey respondents stated that their organizations were planning further technology acquisitions in the coming year.
Technologies adopted by ALFs include:
- Patient monitoring systems
- Contact tracing applications
- Telehealth systems
- Virtual facility tours
- Security and safety systems
Backend systems, particularly in networking and internet access, have also been bolstered in recent years. These systems are the foundation of technology, and benefit both facility employees and residents alike. Employees gain better access to patient records while providing superior safety, while family members can remain in contact with residents even when COVID-related restrictions forbid in-person visitation. Telehealth systems have proven their worth in the wake of the pandemic, allowing healthcare providers to assess resident health needs without the risk of transportation to other facilities or potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Senior Living Cyber Liabilities Related to Technology
One of the negative aspects of the COVID pandemic has been the rise in cyber criminality across industries. The healthcare sector is a prime target for criminals; by breaching health networks and systems, criminals can gain access to patient records, which often contain billing and financial information. And, despite technology advances, many ALFs are vulnerable to hackers due to less-than-secure networks or outdated connectivity standards.
ALFs experiencing breaches of systems and the loss of patient records face significant liability risks. Forensic analysis of criminal activity and the costs associated with data recovery can cripple even the most robust organization. Legal challenges related to cyber crime also pose steep financial challenges for ALFs. Expenses related to criminal activity also include:
- Credit monitoring for affected parties
- Crisis management and public relations
- Costs associated with business interruption
- Damage to facility reputations
- Costs related to cyber extortion or blackmail schemes on the part of cyber criminals
- Physical damage to computer systems
- Regulatory penalties
Together, these expenses represent a significant threat to the operation of a senior care facility like an ALF. Thankfully, there is an insurance-based solution to mitigate many of these potential risks.
The backbone of cyber risk management is to adopt comprehensive cyber liability insurance policies. Too often, however, ALFs owners and managers do not fully understand the value of such insurance protections. It is imperative that insurance agents share information about policy coverages, helping their ALF clients gain critical protection against cyber crimes. With an eye toward the future of technology and the peace of mind afforded by senior living cyber liabilities insurance, ALFs can continue to use innovative systems to deliver superior health and wellness care that America’s seniors depend on.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.