Ransomware Attack Costs Health Network $1.5m a Day

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A cyber-attack on a Vermont healthcare provider has delayed the rollout of an electronic health record (EHR) system and cost millions of dollars in lost revenue. 

The University of Vermont Health Network, which is based in Burlington, was hit by ransomware in October 2020, and is yet to make a full recovery. Most computer systems have been brought back online; however, some applications are still down, causing delays in various departments, including radiology.

The network serves much of Vermont and parts of upstate New York. When attackers struck at six of the network's hospitals, Vermont's governor, Phil Scott, deemed the situation serious enough to merit the deployment of the Vermont Army National Guard’s Combined Cyber Response Team 1 to aid in the recovery effort.

In December, UVM Health Network CEO Dr. Stephen Leffler said that the cyber-attack was costing the network about $1.5m a day in lost revenue and recovery costs. 

The UVM Health Network completed the first phase of implementation of the Epic EHR system in November 2019, launching additional clinical and administrative capabilities for inpatient and outpatient settings that included clinical care, billing, registration, and scheduling.

Phases two and three were scheduled to take place in March 2021 and November 2021. However, the combined effects of the ransomware attack and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak have now pushed those dates back to November 2021 and April 2022, pending approval from the Green Mountain Care Board. 

“In 2020, our Network, like those across the world, experienced tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only to be further encumbered by a ransomware attack,” John Brumsted, M.D., president and CEO of the UVM Health Network, said in a statement published Tuesday.  

“An electronic health record is one of the most significant things we can do to ensure high quality care and create a seamless experience for our patients. That is why it is absolutely critical to our patients, our people, and our communities that we get the implementation of this system right. 

"Given the obstacles we faced over the last year, modifying our timeline for installation of the EHR is the right thing to do.”

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