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U.S. Spurs Joint Efforts in Healthcare Cybersecurity

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Cyberattacks have become a growing threat in the United States, affecting government entities and industries, particularly healthcare. The healthcare industry, in particular, has witnessed a significant surge in cyberattacks, posing severe challenges to organisations and protecting sensitive patient data. In 2022 alone, healthcare organisations experienced a staggering average of 1,426 weekly cyberattacks, representing a 60% increase compared to the previous year.

The recent cyberattack on one of the healthcare technology companies in the U.S. has raised significant concerns about the impact on patients and healthcare providers, highlighting the vulnerabilities in our digital infrastructure. Along with the broader trend of increasing cyber threats in the healthcare sector, this attack has raised significant concerns about patient safety and the ability of healthcare providers to deliver critical services.

To address these challenges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Secretary Xavier Becerra, Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, and White House officials convened a meeting with payers to discuss concrete actions to mitigate harm and support affected providers. This meeting followed up on a previous meeting and aimed to assess the progress made since then and identify further steps to support the healthcare system.

One of the key developments since the last meeting was the survey conducted by HHS among payers to gather data and information on their actions to assist providers affected by the cyberattack. Over the weekend, HHS teams worked diligently to review the responses and understand the efforts being made by payers to help providers resolve issues arising from the cyberattack.

During the meeting, Secretary Becerra and the Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, Neera Tanden, acknowledged the improvements made in claims processing. They stressed the need for more support, particularly for providers serving vulnerable populations, rural hospitals, and smaller institutions. While acknowledging these improvements as a positive step forward, both officials emphasised the critical need for further support, especially for healthcare providers serving vulnerable populations, rural hospitals, and smaller institutions.

Deputy Secretary Palm highlighted the progress in reestablishing claims processing and urged insurers to provide advanced payments to small, rural, and safety-net healthcare providers still experiencing cash flow issues. This targeted support is essential to ensure these providers can continue operating and serving their communities effectively.

Anne Neuberger, who served as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology in the Biden administration, also emphasised the interconnected nature of the domestic healthcare ecosystem and the importance of strengthening cybersecurity resilience across the sector. She urged insurers to adopt HHS’ voluntary HPH Cyber Performance Goals (CPGs) and stressed needing third-party certification of Change Healthcare’s system before reconnecting. This certification process is crucial to ensure the security of the healthcare system and protect against future cyberattacks.

Secretary Becerra and Deputy Secretary Palm called on a healthcare group company to help connect providers with the support they needed. Director Tanden urged insurers to use their data to identify providers needing additional support and engage with them directly to address their concerns.

Representatives from participating insurance providers provided updates on their efforts and outlined specific actions they would take to resolve the issues. HHS and White House officials emphasised the importance of targeted solutions, including increased advanced payments to providers and communities most affected by the cyberattack.

The meeting highlighted the progress in addressing the challenges posed by the cyberattack on Change Healthcare. However, it also underscored the need for continued collaboration and support to ensure that providers can continue to deliver care effectively.

Despite these efforts, the threat of cyberattacks in the healthcare sector remains a significant concern. Healthcare organisations must remain vigilant and proactive in their cybersecurity efforts to protect themselves and the patients they serve from the impacts of cyberattacks.

The government and the private sector must work together to strengthen the cybersecurity resilience of the healthcare sector and protect patients and providers from future attacks.


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