Medical Practitioners Hit Hard by UnitedHealth Group Cyberattack

Medical Data Breach word cloud on blue backgroundThe cyberattack on Change Healthcare, owned by UnitedHealth Group, disrupted digital clearinghouse services, impacting billing and care authorization systems nationwide. On average Change Healthcare processes 15 billion health care transactions annually, managing one in three health care transactions in the US.

UnitedHealth identified a ransomware group called ALPHV, or Blackcat, as responsible. The attack has caused significant administrative challenges for hospitals, medical practices, doctors, pharmacies, and patients, leading to billing issues and difficulties in obtaining medical services and prescriptions.

UnitedHealth has said it expects to begin testing and reconnect its claims network and software by March 18, but the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pressuring them to speed up payments where possible.

Calling this the “most significant cyberattack” on healthcare in American history, HHS has also urged insurance companies to adapt quickly to mitigate disruptions in medical billing and care authorization. In a letter on March 10, HHS asked UnitedHealth to “take responsibility to ensure no provider is compromised by their cash flow challenges” and communicate more frequently and with full transparency about recovery efforts to its medical clients and state Medicaid agencies.

In the meantime, UnitedHealth has suspended prior authorizations for some inpatient and outpatient services through March 31. Doctors’ offices can help maintain their operations by utilizing paper claims, exploring alternative clearinghouses, and seeking advance Medicare payments if facing cash flow issues.

What can you do to keep hackers out? In addition to the layers of security you most likely already have in place, consider implementing a Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) – to quickly detect a security incident when it occurs, and run regular vulnerability scans to find – and fix – your environment’s most vulnerable security weaknesses.

Richard Stokes: As the Director of Sales for Network 1, Richard identifies “future” clients that can benefit from the support of an experienced, outsourced IT team. He helps clients and prospects find technology solutions they need to achieve better productivity and efficiency so they can focus on making money and growing their businesses.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.

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