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Impact and Importance of the Clearinghouse Outage

Hugh Grant

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In February 2024, Change Healthcare, a pivotal clearinghouse in the US healthcare system, suffered a prolonged outage due to a cyber attack. Handling half of the nation’s medical claims and processing transactions for 900,000 physicians, its disruption rippled through the healthcare ecosystem. Also, it compromised the billing operations of over 67,000 pharmacies, affecting 1 in 3 patient records. 

The Critical Role of Clearinghouses

Clearinghouses serve as a necessary connection between healthcare providers and payers, facilitating payment processes essential for the functioning of healthcare delivery. They are the backbone of revenue cycles, ensuring timely reimbursement for services rendered. However, the recent outage highlighted the fragility of relying on a single clearinghouse.

Lessons Learned: Establishing Redundancy

To reduce the impact of future outages, healthcare systems must prioritize establishing redundant connections with multiple clearinghouses. Modern architecture and scalability are very important, ensuring minimal disruption during crises. By diversifying their clearinghouse connections, organizations can safeguard against delayed payments, financial risks, and operational challenges arising from system failures.

Leading the Way

It is necessary to look for healthcare companies that exemplify proactive preparedness by offering connections to multiple clearinghouses. This approach ensures that payer requests remain uninterrupted, even in the face of clearinghouse outages. By embracing redundancy and modern infrastructure, some healthcare companies are able to set a precedent for resilient healthcare payment processing systems in an era fraught with cyber threats.

Building Resilience

The Change Healthcare clearinghouse outage serves as a wake-up call for the healthcare industry to fortify its infrastructure against cyber threats. Establishing decentralized communications through redundant clearinghouse connections is imperative for maintaining operational continuity and financial stability. By embracing modern architecture and scalability, organizations can navigate the challenges of the digital age with confidence and resilience.

Lessons Learned from the Change Healthcare Cyberattack
Source: Orbit Healthcare

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