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Oncology News Central (ONC)Avoid Income Loss in Oncology: Plan for Disaster

Strategic Planning for Income Stability in Oncology Amid Cybersecurity Threats

Oncology practices continue to face challenges from the Change Healthcare cyberattack, which significantly disrupted reimbursement processes. As systems gradually come back online, providers are urged to implement strategic measures to safeguard against future cyber incidents. This article outlines critical steps for maintaining income stability and operational continuity in the face of potential cybersecurity breaches.

Key Points:

  • Impact of the Cyberattack: The cyberattack on Change Healthcare on February 21 halted services, affecting the reimbursement processes for many oncology practices.
  • CMS Response: In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to assist providers, including advanced or accelerated payments.
  • Service Restoration: Change Healthcare has begun restoring services, allowing many practices to resume receiving payments, though some providers are still awaiting reimbursement.
  • Future Preparedness: Oncology practices should use this period to create an emergency plan to protect against future cyber incidents.
  • Universal Risk: Cyber breaches can occur in any organization at any time, affecting payers, clearinghouses, or internally within a practice.
  • Immediate Actions Post-Breach: If a breach occurs, practices should stop sending protected health information to the affected entity until a secure transmission method is verified.
  • Submission Alternatives: Contact payers to determine preferred methods for claim submissions during a breach; paper submissions may not always be accepted.
  • Preparation for Future Breaches: Practices should prepare by securing backup funding sources, such as an emergency line of credit and ransomware insurance, to ensure operational continuity.
  • Incentives for Payers: Payers are incentivized to create alternative submission processes quickly to minimize interest payments to providers.
  • Financial Loss from Cybercrimes: In 2022, internet crimes led to financial losses totaling $10.3 billion.

“A breach can happen to any organization at any time. A breach could emanate from a payer, a clearinghouse, or even internally – and practices should be prepared for each of these situations, as each could bring revenue cycle operations to a halt.”
– Shawntea “Taya” Gordon, MBA, FACMPE, CMOM, consultant for the Medical Group Management Association

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