May 8 (Reuters) - Hospital operator Ascension reported disruptions to its clinical operations on Wednesday due to a suspected cybersecurity incident and advised business partners to temporarily disconnect from its systems.

Earlier this year, UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer, had reported a cyberattack at its technology unit - one of the worst hacks to hit American healthcare - that caused widespread disruptions in payments to doctors and health facilities.

"Out of an abundance of caution we are recommending that business partners temporarily suspend the connection to the Ascension environment," the healthcare network said in a statement.

It said it continues to investigate the situation after detecting unusual activity on its select technology network systems. Access to some systems had been interrupted as the process of assessing the impact and duration of the disruptions continued, Ascension added.

It had initiated processes to ensure patient care delivery continues to be safe and minimally impacted, the nonprofit said.

Ascension also said it had engaged third-party expert Mandiant to assist in the investigation and remediation process and notified the appropriate authorities.

Founded as a Catholic nonprofit in 1999, the network includes about 134,000 associates, 35,000 affiliated providers and 140 hospitals, serving 19 states and the District of Columbia. (Reporting by Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)