To prevent these types of records from being compromised, Scaglione said that hospitals and other healthcare facilities should place an increased emphasis on access control and making sure that proper protocols are followed.
“Putting a card reader on a door doesn’t mean it’s going to be more secure if the staff props the door open or leaves the door open,” he says. “It’s really ensuring those processes are working the way they’re supposed to be.”
In addition, Hamilton says that healthcare organizations also need to be cognizant of the dangers posed by petty criminals, as well as organized crime rings looking to steal this new influx of sensitive patient information.
“This is going to be an additional thing that hospitals and all healthcare providers start taking a tougher look at besides just stamping the HIPAA requirement and saying, ‘yeah, we meet that,” Hamilton says. “And again, a lot of times the weakness is in physical security and not in the IT department. In Miami, they have organized gangs that try to get their girlfriends on the payroll of hospitals just so they can steal the data and not so that they can sell it, but what they want to do is file false income tax reports because it’s incredibility lucrative.”
With more people having health insurance, Scaglione said there will also undoubtedly be more people visiting emergency rooms, which has the potential to raise tension levels in what is already one of the most high-risk areas of a hospital.
“Those people that haven’t had healthcare (insurance) for a long, long time and now have access to healthcare, obviously they wouldn’t have primary physicians so they’re going to go to the emergency rooms across the country which is really going to inundate those hospitals that were probably already very busy even more,” says Scaglione. “These particular patients are probably some of the most difficult in the sense that they have multiple problems, not only physical but psychological. So, the emergency rooms tend to be violent places and now everybody is assuming that’s probably going to increase as people become more insured and use that insurance.”
While Hamilton agrees that hospital traffic will go up, she believes that it will actually reduce stress on emergency departments
“I think it’s going to reduce the pressure on emergency rooms and put pressure on the rest of the hospital and also physician practices. Poorer people and those on Medicaid are using the emergency room as their primary care physician, which is a problem (the healthcare law) was supposed to address,” says Hamilton. “That might reduce the impact on the emergency department, which is the entry point of a lot of problems.”