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Survey: Small physician practices struggling after cyberattack

The Change Healthcare cyberattack has stymied cash flow, forcing physician practices to pay out of pocket to keep businesses afloat.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.

Small physician practices are still struggling in the wake of February’s Change Healthcare cyberattack, according to an American Medical Association (AMA) survey released Wednesday.

More than half of ~1,400 respondents (55%) reported that they’ve had to use personal funds to cover their practice’s expenses due to the cyberattack’s effects on cash flow. Practices across the country have been unable to fill prescriptions or process insurance claims as Change systems went offline, Healthcare Brew previously reported.

About two-thirds of respondents said they’ve experienced restrictions to core functions, such as suspending claim payments (36%), not being able to submit claims (32%), and not being able to obtain electronic remittance advice (39%), according to the survey.

Additionally, 85% of surveyed respondents said they’ve had to use more staff time and resources for revenue cycle tasks. One respondent told the AMA that overtime cost an additional $50,000 in payroll.

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

Ehrenfeld also pointed to “compounding Medicare cuts” as a reason physician practices are feeling greater financial strain.

Still, some respondents said they received assistance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (12%) and UnitedHealth Group/Optum (25%).

Methodology: The AMA conducted an “informal survey” of more than 1,400 respondents between March 26 and April 3. Nearly 1,100 of the respondents work at practices with 10 or fewer physicians, according to the survey.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.