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September 2017

Editor's Note: Will the NotPetya Affair Linger?
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 29 No. 9 P. 3

Out of sight, out of mind. Remember when basketball legend Kobe Bryant retired with great fanfare? Somewhere deep in the recesses of sports fans' minds was the memory of the sexual assault charges levied against Bryant in 2003. Anyone still flying United Airlines? Earlier this year, the airline made a mess of public relations when a passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight.

In most cases, time does heal. And there's something to be said for healing. It can be argued that one mistake, despite its magnitude, should not define a person or an organization.

As data breaches in health care organizations become more commonplace, the industry becomes seemingly more forgiving to those that have fallen prey to cyber criminals. Victims get lost in the shuffle, reputations are regained, and business eventually returns to normal. However, will that be the case for Nuance, transcription's largest technology and service vendor, which endured a prolonged downtime when it came under attack from the global NotPetya virus? And what about those vendors that took advantage of the situation with questionable tactics? Will they survive untarnished?

In the Nuance case, files were lost, and coming back online proved to be a handsome task even after data centers were restored. As a result, some of Nuance's hospital clients sought alternative solutions, creating a wild marketplace that, much like any other industry, featured good guys and bad guys.

When an industry titan runs into difficulty, rumors—some true, some false—start to emerge. Everyone wants to slay the giant—and apparently anyone else they can get their hands on. Few people want to go on record with their tales, but once several sources mention the same scenario, it gains credibility. To wit, in the wake of the NotPetya attack, some of Nuance's competitors apparently began charging as much as double the going rate. Meanwhile, others took the high road, banking on their services leaving a lasting impression that could pay either immediate (new account) or future (overflow option) dividends.

In Nuance's case, stories of discontent from dissatisfied HIM leaders and smaller transcription service owners have been circulating. Threats of legal action against Nuance clients seeking to take their business elsewhere and subcontractors left high and dry were relayed by several sources. On the other hand, others spoke highly of Nuance's communication and tireless effort to bring everything back online.

In a year, it's entirely possible that any venom will have dissipated and the industry will have moved on to the next hot topic. No doubt, it will be interesting to see whether this cyberattack changes the face of transcription or becomes a blip on the HIM landscape.