Change Healthcare Cyberattack Affects Dental Practice eServices

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Affects Dental Practice eServices

In a world that increasingly relies on digital systems for record-keeping, the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare has sent shockwaves through the healthcare industry, with ripple effects extending to the dental sector. Traditionally viewed as low-risk targets, dental practices have often lagged in the race for cybersecurity. However, the recent incident serves as a potent reminder that no niche within healthcare is immune to digital threats.

But how is the Change Healthcare cyberattack specifically impacting dental professionals and their patients? This article explores: 

  • The stark reality facing dental practices 
  • Uncovers the implications of the disrupted eServices, such as eClaims and ePrescriptions 
  • Provides resources from dental practices affected by service disruptions due to incident 
  • Offers strategic responses to strengthen cybersecurity

Understanding the Change Healthcare Cyberattack

For those unfamiliar, Change Healthcare—a revenue cycle management subsidiary of Optum—reported a cybersecurity incident that led to a network outage. 

According to a Change Healthcare statement posted on its website on Feb. 22, “Change Healthcare is experiencing a network interruption related to a cyber security issue and our experts are working to address the matter. Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.” 

This not only affected the company's own operations but also disabled critical systems for processing healthcare claims and ePrescriptions affecting dental, medical, and pharmaceutical organizations.

What is Happening with eClaims and ePrescriptions?

Because many dental software companies (Carestream, Patterson, and Henry Schein One) rely on Change Healthcare’s services, dental practices are indirectly feeling the aftermath of the cyberattack. The repercussions were immediate and profound, as dental professionals found themselves unable to use eServices to process claims and prescriptions, leading to operational chaos and a direct hit to their bottom line.

eClaims Processing in Dental

The pivot to electronic claims filing systems has revolutionized billing practices in the dental industry, streamlining the process to ensure faster payment turnaround times. With Change Healthcare's system offline, that efficiency has all but evaporated for thousands of dental practices. Claims that would be processed electronically within days are now reverting to paper, with an expected lag that could lead to significant cash flow issues for practices already on tight schedules.

Disruption of ePrescription (ePrescribe) in Dental

In contemporary dental care, speed and precision are tantamount, and digital prescription processing achieves just that. Change Healthcare's ePrescription service outage has thrown a wrench into this operational paradigm, forcing dental professionals to revert to manual prescription methods. The switch back to paper scripts introduces a notable delay in the flow of patient care, potentially leading to inconvenience and disrupting the management of acute dental conditions.

Resources for Dental Practices Affected by Change Healthcare Cyberattack

With the sudden network outage presented by Change Healthcare due to a recent cyberattack, many dental software companies are working on alternate solutions to speed up insurance claims and prescription services. We encourage impacted dental practices to review the below updates, watch for communications from vendors and payers about restoration services, and ask vendors for alternate solutions.

Carestream Dental Updates

Dental software company, Carestream Dental, has updated its claim processing to help dental practices. According to a news release, Carestream Dental’s IT security team confirmed the breach didn’t extend to the company’s system and are continuing to monitor for any indications of compromise. They have rerouted claims through their own clearing house and restored insurance verifications for applicable payers. 

Carestream Dental has created a centralized webpage where users can gather ongoing updates, including a list of payers that are capable of processing claims and alternative solutions/tips (how to print prescriptions, handle EOBs, and send patient statements).

Patterson Dental Updates

Patterson Dental has teamed up with Vyne Dental to expedite insurance claims for dental practices utilizing Eaglesoft. According to a news release from Patterson Companies, this collaboration will provide “rapid resolution of insurance claims and attachments, real-time eligibility checks and electronic remittance advice (ERA).” 

You can find more information on this solution from Patterson Dental here.

Henry Schein One Updates

Dental software company, Henry Schein One, has begun processing claims with a new clearinghouse admis the cyberattack on Change Healthcare. According to a press release, within 48 hours of learning about the incident, Henry Schein One established an alternative method of processing claims. Additionally, they’re offering financial aid, complimentary communications through the Dentrix and Dentrix Ascend platforms, and a dedicated help line for processing assistance. 

Henry Schein One has created a Claims Processing Updates page where users can receive updated information on the current situation.

Technology Best Practices for Dental Professionals and Practice Managers

The impact of this incident is felt far beyond the company directly affected (Change Healthcare). Although dental practices weren’t directly hit by this cyberattack, it’s an important reminder that disaster could strike anywhere and at any time. 

There are several strategies your practice can adopt to mitigate the impact of such disasters and fortify your digital defenses:

Establishing a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

The first step is to integrate a foolproof backup and disaster recovery plan. This type of plan enables swift response to incidents (such as the one covered in this article), ensuring minimal patient and practice disruption. Technology continues to advance and streamline how we work, but it’s important to prepare for when it isn’t completely reliant (due to forces outside of your control).

Engaging in Continuous Staff Training and Awareness

Human error and oversight are common entry points for cyber incidents. Regular training for staff on data security practices and protocols can greatly reduce the threat landscape. From recognizing phishing attempts to secure password protocols, every staff member plays a crucial role in the office's digital security. 

Need resources for your cybersecurity training for employees? Check out Essential Topics to Include in Your Employee Cybersecurity Training.

Enhancing IT Support and Infrastructure

Investing in robust IT services, top-rated network security tools, and reliable IT support are foundational steps in defending your dental practice network. By prioritizing cybersecurity within the practice's IT infrastructure, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks on your dental practice. Enlisting the help of a dedicated dental IT managed service provider (MSP) could be the first step in creating a worry-free IT environment.

Reviewing Current Hardware and Processes

Regular review and assessment of current hardware and operational processes play a pivotal role in ensuring your dental practice’s resilience against cyber threats. Upgrading outdated systems, adopting secure cloud storage solutions, and implementing encrypted communication channels for sensitive patient information are essential measures. By thoroughly auditing your technological resources and procedures, you can uncover vulnerabilities and address them before they’re exploited by cybercriminals.

It’s important for dental practices to prioritize cybersecurity - not to just protect their business revenue and integrity, but the safety and security of the patients they care for. As the dental industry grapples with the aftermath of this cyber incident, proactive steps are essential. From aligning on cybersecurity best practices to enhancing network security tools and support, dental practices must be at the forefront of their own digital defense.” - Dan Edwards | CEO of Pact-One Solutions

Conclusion

The events following the Change Healthcare cyberattack have underscored the need for robust cybersecurity measures in dentistry. Dental professionals cannot afford to be lax in their digital security posture. The repercussions of even the briefest cyber disruptions can be significant, affecting everything from revenue streams to patient care. 

Awareness, mitigation, and collective response are key to safeguarding dental practices against the evolving threat landscape. Change Healthcare’s incident serves not only as a warning but also as a unique opportunity for dental professionals to realign their cybersecurity priorities, ensuring the continuity and integrity of their practices. 

The Change Healthcare cyberattack may be the current challenge, but it's the forward-looking, resilient dental practices that will triumph over future cybersecurity threats.


Dental IT. Remove the Burden. Embrace the Use.

Quality patient care – it's ultimately why you became a dental professional. But, some business operations can get in the way (such as pesky computer issues or lack of IT support). That’s where Pact-One Solutions can help! Our passion lies in supplying reliable, responsive dental IT support and security that practices can count on. 

Whether you’re looking for dental IT services for your startup or searching for more responsive dental IT support – our team of dental IT specialists have you covered. With team members throughout the United States, we offer nationwide support to dental practices of all sizes. Our wide range of dental IT services ensure your data is secure, accessible, and protected. 

Don't let technology challenges hinder your ability to deliver exceptional dental care. Contact us at info@pact-one.com or 866-722-8663 to join 350+ dental practices thriving with the support of a dedicated dental IT team.


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