Pharmacies Across the U.S. Report Widespread Outages Following Cyberattack

Photo: AHL Pharmacy

Change Healthcare, a prominent healthcare technology company based in the United States has fallen victim to a cyberattack, leading to widespread outages and delays in prescription processing at pharmacies nationwide.

Owned by UnitedHealth Group, Change Healthcare is critical in the healthcare infrastructure, facilitating the processing of orders and payments for patients across the country.

The cyberattack, which was first detected on the company’s East Coast network early Wednesday morning, has caused enterprise-wide connectivity issues, severely disrupting the usual operations of local pharmacies. These delays in prescription processing are not just inconveniences; they represent a direct impact on patient care and access to necessary medications.

Change Healthcare, which merged with Optum, a healthcare services giant, in 2022, has been proactive in communicating about the incident.

In an update at 11 am EST, Change Healthcare wrote that it is still “experiencing a cyber security issue, and our experts are working to address the matter. Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact. At this time, we believe the issue is specific to Change Healthcare and all other systems across UnitedHealth Group are operational. The disruption is expected to last at least through the day. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.”

Security Week reported:

In the afternoon, Change Healthcare also disclosed that the disruption was caused by an outside threat and that it had disconnected its systems to contain the incident.

While Change Healthcare did not say what type of cyberattack it fell victim to, ransomware might have been involved, given that the typical response to such an attack is to disconnect the affected systems from the network.

In 2022, Change Healthcare merged with Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, creating one of the largest healthcare technology companies in the US. The organization handles payment processes for healthcare providers and payers across the country.

The company has access to the medical records of roughly one third of US patients, handling billions of healthcare transactions per year, and the disruption has had a significant impact on the healthcare system, with some pharmacies being unable to process prescriptions.

“Due to a nationwide outage from the largest prescription processor in North America, we are currently unable to process prescriptions at any of our four locations of Scheurer Family Pharmacy. We are still able to accept prescriptions, but unable to process them through your insurance,” Scheurer Health announced.

The Gateway Pundit reported earlier Thursday that tens of thousands of cell phone users have experienced outages this morning for their home phone, internet, and mobile phone services. The shocking number of interruptions is sparking fear of a possible cyber attack.

The outages reportedly began around 4 am Eastern time and also affected thousands of customers with Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. Cricket, which is also part of AT&T, reported having 11,000 customers affected.

The most significant number of issues, though, was reported by AT&T users, which spiked at 31,931 reports at 4:30 am before again jumping to 71,000 at 8 AM.

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