How to Counteract the Effects of a Disrupted Revenue Cycle

Change healthcare

Change Healthcare, a payment and revenue cycle management (RCM) division of UnitedHealth Group (UHG), experienced a major cyberattack in late February. The largest breach to ever hit the healthcare sector impacted providers’ revenue cycles, including the ability to process claims and receive payment from payers. 

In this article, we will explore what providers can do to counteract the effects of disrupted cashflow and protect their practice and patients. 

The Breach’s Impact on Reimbursements

With Change Healthcare handling one in every three patient records in the U.S., the effects of the recent cyberattack have been widespread. Forced to take computer systems handling electronic payments and insurance claims offline, it has been described as the most significant cyberattack in U.S. healthcare history by the American Hospital Association (AHA). The repercussions left providers unable to refill prescriptions, verify insurance, authorize procedures, submit claims, or receive reimbursements.    

Practices report they are struggling financially due to lack of insurance payment reimbursements, and many are concerned if the breach compromised sensitive information. Faced with the sudden halt and delays in critical systemic processes, providers are searching for guidance on how to recover and best protect themselves in the future. 

With the halt on payer reimbursements, providers impacted are improvising ways to make ends meet financially and, in many cases, must implement manual stopgap fixes — pivoting to paper submissions or changing clearinghouses — to keep the practice running. Workarounds to affected systems are time-consuming, adding extra work for providers and administrative staff. While relief seems distant, the workload continues to build, and practitioners are looking for ways to keep the practice above water.   

Keep Patient Payments Processing

Reviewing and collecting outstanding patient balances is a positive way for providers to increase cash flow, not only during this difficult time, but as a long-term strategy. With Rectangle Health’s Bridge™ Payments, healthcare providers can expedite the collection of patient payments to offset the disruptions to insurance payment reimbursements. Features such as Text-to-Pay, Bulk Text-to-Pay, Card-on-File, and online payment options accelerate the receipt of patient balances. 

Great Lakes Dental Partners (GLDP), a Rectangle Health client, said in a recent case study that after the switch to Bridge™ Payments, their multiple practices saw near-immediate results in A/R numbers. The added ability to customize each dental practice’s statement based on the location and needs, eliminated previous patient confusion on where the bill came from. Next, GLDPs implemented Text-to-Pay to conveniently send balances to its patients. Both actions produced quick results. 

“We were using a different vendor, and our patient A/R levels were rising,” explained Donna Ramadan, vice president of revenue cycle and compliance for GLDP. “When we implemented Text-to-Pay, our A/R went from $8 million to below $3 million in a little over 18 months.” 

Strengthen Compliance and Cybersecurity

This recent incident has healthcare organizations’ attention, reinforcing the need to be vigilant and focused on assessing their readiness to prevent cyberattacks. It is imperative that providers evaluate their systems and processes, investing in new technology if current solutions are insufficient.  

Rectangle Health’s Bridge™ Compliance secures and backs up data, keeps your practice up to date on all HIPAA requirements, and offers cyber insurance products to limit your liability. Bridge Compliance also offers providers an outlet for creating, managing, and storing Business Associate Agreements (BAAs). “An individual practice may feel especially powerless in this scenario, as they are sitting on the sidelines watching the incident unfold,” Adam Grantz, director of enterprise customer support for Rectangle Health said. “Providers across the healthcare delivery system should revisit their data privacy and security policies and contracts, to ensure their patients’ data is protected to the fullest extent possible.”  

What’s Next?

There are specific actions providers can take. To ensure the financial stability of the practice while waiting for reimbursement operations to resume, practices can capture patient out-of-pocket responsibility before, during, or after time of service, and focus on collecting outstanding accounts receivable. Also, this event highlights the targeting and vulnerabilities of the healthcare industry. It is critical to implement comprehensive cybersecurity strategies to prevent disruption of care, safeguard patient data, and uphold the integrity of the healthcare infrastructure. 

“Providers can use text and online payment features regularly to accelerate the revenue cycle, however amidst this crisis, they are critical to capturing outstanding balances to help offset reimbursement disruption,” said Mike Peluso, Chief Strategy and Product Officer for Rectangle Health. “We are here to help providers who are experiencing financial difficulty by getting them up and running quickly with Text-To-Pay and online payments, additionally we can help assess vulnerabilities if they are concerned about compliance and risk during this challenging time.” 

Accelerate revenue with Bridge™ Payments and mitigate risk with Bridge™ Compliance. For more details on how to protect your practice against cyberthreats, download our two-part guide on cybersecurity. 




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