An Aging Workforce

Increased life expectancy directly correlates with the number of people in the active workforce.

According to the U.S. Census, between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of older adults is projected to increase by 135%.

The population aged 85+ (which is the group most likely to need health and long-term care services) is projected to increase by 350%.

The National Council on Aging has noted that 80% if older Americans are living with at least one chronic condition and 68% have at least two. More
than two-thirds of current health care costs go towards treating chronic illnesses among older Americans.

What does this mean for you and your staff? As we watch the aging workforce continue to increase, we recognize that precautions and healthy
practices must be taken. With the significant increase expected in the population ages 65-84 through 2050, this projected growth in the share of
the labor force poses a potential challenge for workers’ compensation. The CDC has taken notice of “Rate vs. Severity” of injuries with older workers,
and so should we. Older workers typically have lower rates of workplace injuries but those injuries, when they do occur, resulting in higher average
costs.

What do we do about this? How do we prepare?

Staff Fitness. A worker’s fitness level can make a difference in the severity of these “tip of the iceberg” events.
The first step in preventing injuries due to aging is to make sure the employees have the opportunity to stay fit.
Whether you offer a reduced rate membership to your own wellness/fitness center or negotiate a reduced rate
with a local gym, you have given your employees an option.

Fit for Duty. Some employers have written very specific position descriptions that include physical characteristics
of the job such as “must be able to walk 50 feet within 10 seconds followed by 5 minutes of CPR” or “must be
able to lift 50 pounds” or “must be able to …”. You have the right, as an employer, to make sure that all of your
employees, new or old, can do these things.

Employee Tools. Use tools designed to reduce injury and increase the safety of staff and patients during transfers.
Do an assessment of what kind of gait belts, slide boards, lifts, etc. that you need. Involve your staff to do
the assessment and assist with the selection of tools. Make lifts and lifting aids available and maintain tools properly
and routinely update and replace them with improved tools.

These suggestions not only will protect your older workers from having that “tip of the iceberg” event, but also will benefit younger employees as well.
A healthy, stable workforce also creates an atmosphere conducive to patient confidence and satisfaction. Patient satisfaction can lead to increased
referrals, growth in market share, and philanthropic support from satisfied patients or their families.

The key is to have a plan, make your expectations known to your staff, and follow-up with positive corrective action until everyone is following safe
practices and risk management.

The True Cost of Cybersecurity and How to Protect Your Hospital

Everyone has seen the scary news stories. A clinician’s laptop containing protected health information is lost or stolen. A disgruntled employee hacks into the hospital’s network and exposes personal data. Or a virus attack results in a widespread breach of
patient privacy. Not only are these incidents embarrassing and harmful to a hospital’s reputation, they also result in costly fines and potential privacy-related legal claims.

According to a study from the Ponemon Institute on behalf of IBM Security, data breaches are costlier to resolve in the United States than in other nations and the cost of a data breach varies considerably among industries. Health care has the highest
data breach resolution costs — an average $408 per record. This is considerably higher than the No. 2 spot on Ponemon’s study, financial services data breaches, with an average cost of $206 per record.

While most hospital leaders acknowledge the financial impact and the legal and regulatory repercussions that can result from a cybersecurity breach, there are other costs, including those associated with damage to the hospital’s reputation, operational
expenses and impacts on quality and patient safety:
• Reputation. Once a breach occurs, and the news spreads, a hospital’s reputation can be significantly damaged, with repercussions including a decrease in the number of patients, loss of staff members or severed ties with community partners.
• Operations. Operational costs vary depending on the type of breach, but if the incident involved an employee, hospitals should be prepared for extra costs such as those associated with hiring and training new employees.
• Quality and patient safety. Patients trust their health care providers with their most important personal information, and they expect that information to remain confidential. When patient records are compromised, delayed or inaccurate diagnoses can occur or the hospital could process fraudulent medical claims.

The Texas Hospital Insurance Exchange offers cyber liability insurance designed for the unique privacy-related exposures that hospitals face on a daily basis. These policies cover the regulatory defense of claims and lost profits due to negative publicity, so hospitals can focus on what matters most–providing high-quality care.

 

Originally written and submitted as an article for the Sept./Oct. 2018 Issue of THA Magazine

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