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HIT ConsultantPhysician Practices Struggle After Change Healthcare Cyberattack: Unpaid Claims, Staff Strain, and Potential Closures

Pervasive Impact of Cyberattack on Physician Practices Highlights Systemic Vulnerabilities in Healthcare IT

A recent survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) has documented the extensive challenges faced by physician practices in the wake of the Change Healthcare cyberattack. Despite initial reassurances from UnitedHealth Group about the resumption of claim processing, many practices continue to experience severe disruptions. This situation has resulted in financial losses, strained resources, and compromised patient care, stressing the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures within healthcare IT systems.

Key Points:

  • Claims Processing Disruptions: Following the Change Healthcare cyberattack, 36% of physician practices reported a halt in claim payments, and 32% were unable to submit new claims.
  • Financial Strain: The cyberattack has caused significant financial distress, with 80% of practices experiencing revenue losses due to unpaid claims. Additionally, 55% have used personal funds to cover operational costs.
  • Supply and Payroll Challenges: Affected practices face practical difficulties, with 44% unable to purchase necessary supplies and 31% struggling to meet payroll obligations.
  • Impact on Patient Care: The compromised functionality has potentially serious implications for patient care, as indicated by the survey responses.
  • Vulnerability of Small Practices: Practices with fewer than 10 physicians are disproportionately affected, indicating a higher risk for smaller entities.
  • Resilience and Adaptation: Despite these challenges, only 15% of practices have reduced operating hours, with many seeking financial relief through advance payments, temporary assistance, and loans.
  • Broad Effects and Call for Action: AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld emphasized the devastating impact of the cyberattack, warning that without resolution, physician practices may close, reducing patient access to care.

“The disruption caused by this cyber-attack is causing tremendous financial strain. These survey data show, in stark terms, that practices will close because of this incident, and patients will lose access to their physicians.”
– AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld

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