May 02 2017

Argentum 2017: Prepare for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Communication Tech

While tools like text messaging can help spread information quickly, improper use can also lead to legal headaches.

From a risk management perspective, communication technologies simultaneously can be beneficial and detrimental for staff and residents at senior living communities, said stakeholders Tuesday at the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

In discussing some of the areas of greatest risk vulnerability in senior living communities, Joel Goldman, a partner with San Francisco-based law firm Hanson Bridgett, and JoAnne Carlin, vice president of clinical risk services with Willis Towers Watson, a London-based global insurance brokerage and advisory company, shared advice regarding social media, texting and email, among other tools.

On the topic of text messaging, Goldman, who represents senior care communities, pointed to one very positive use of the tool: the ability to collectively reach multiple stakeholders in emergency situations.

“Whether you’re running one building or you’ve got 1,000-plus communities, you have the ability to communicate if you have email addresses and cellphone numbers,” Goldman said. “I’ve seen email used very effectively when we had wildfires in San Diego. One of my clients had a complete email list of all family members, and they were able to get a message out. We need to use technology where it can be most helpful.”

Carlin, however, warned that messages intended for emergency situations should be developed ahead of time and reviewed by corporate, legal and risk management departments.

“Don’t just let people randomly use text messaging,” Carlin said. “It’s not good and it is discoverable.”

Carlin also discussed the importance of ensuring that senior living communities evolve as social media tools are created.

“This is becoming a new, additional exposure and risk for communities,” Carlin said. “We weren’t all raised on Snapchat, but we’ve no sooner learned how to use these apps and these different communication methods and then something else comes out.”

She shared the story of a resident care associate at an unnamed facility who was sharing inappropriate pictures that mocked a memory-impaired resident via Snapchat. While the associate ultimately was terminated, Carlin said executives must be prepared for similar situations at their own organizations.

“Get a social media policy and train your staff on what that means in your community,” she said.

Read articles from HealthTech’s coverage of Argentum 2017 here.


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