Cyberattack on Change Healthcare paralyzes pharmacies across the US

Change Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare technology companies in the United States, became the target of a cyberattack, leading to widespread disruption across pharmacies nationwide. The attack, which was made public on Wednesday, has severely impacted the company's ability to process orders and patient payments, with pharmacies struggling to fill prescriptions.

The cyberattack has thrown a wrench into the healthcare system's operations, leaving many pharmacies unable to verify patient insurance coverage or determine copayment amounts. This inability to process prescriptions has caused considerable distress among pharmacists and patients alike.

Jonathan Marquess, vice president of the Academy of Independent Pharmacy in Georgia, expressed the toll the situation has taken on healthcare providers. "Sweat is beading up on my forehead," Marquess said, highlighting the stress and frustration faced by the pharmacy community. Marquess, who has been in continuous communication with the academy's 400 members, described the ordeal as "an incredibly stressful couple of days."

The cyberattack's impact extends beyond administrative hurdles, affecting patients' access to essential medications. Pharmacists are unable to confirm whether patients have insurance coverage or what their copayment might be, delaying the distribution of potentially life-saving drugs. "You're not able to guarantee benefits, you can't see what their current co-pay is, you're not even able to see if they're covered by insurance," Marquess explained.

Change Healthcare acknowledged the cybersecurity issue early Wednesday morning, noting that it had immediately disconnected its systems to mitigate further damage. The company is actively working to resolve the issue and hopes to restore full functionality by Friday.

Pharmacists like Marquess are left facing difficult decisions about how to provide necessary medications to patients in the absence of critical information. "It makes a tough decision for a pharmacist to make," Marquess said.