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Cyber attack continues to plague Montana pharmacies

Cyber Attack
Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 11:30:50-05

A nationwide cyber attack is continuing to plague pharmacies in Montana after nearly two weeks.

The hack first hit Change Healthcare on Feb. 22 and is making it difficult for patients to pick up their prescriptions at various pharmacies, even making them pay for their medications out of pocket in some circumstances.

Change Healthcare is a tech company that serves as the link between pharmacies and insurance companies, and the hack has caused issues in the technology used to confirm that insurance will cover patient medications.

Dr. Eric Arzubi, the CEO of Frontier Psychiatry, said it has been a helpless feeling that affects his organization's patient care.

"Beyond some work arounds, there's nothing we can do," Arzubi said Sunday morning. "I'm only starting to learn how deeply entrenched this company is in our health care infrastructure."

Arzubi said it's become a major issue for not just his organization, but many others and has eliminated the efficiency many healthcare providers had previously in the prescription process.

"Doctors are now having to write paper prescriptions in things that we could kind of click, click e-prescriptions," Arzubi said. "Patients are upset, our team is struggling and then certainly pharmacists are struggling. It's just affecting so many people."

Frontier Psychiatry is a telehealth organization that sees patients from all around the state. Arzubi said the glitch has made it incredibly difficult for them to resume their normal business operations.

"We're seeing patients in all 56 counties in Montana, so we really rely on technology to make care accessible to patients," Arzubi said.

Arzubi added that rural communities are being hit the hardest because they are limited in terms of pharmacy options.

"If I sent a prescription to a patient in a very rural place that only had one pharmacy, having to rely on e-prescription and than prescription doesn't go through, that's a major burden on the patient," Arzubi said.

Arzubi said that he does believe progress is being made and he's hopeful this hack will be resolved shortly, knowing just how significant these issues can be.

"This is one of the biggest, if not, the biggest cyber attacks in terms of it's impact and ability to provide care nationally," Arzubi said. "Moments like right now continue to expose just how vulnerable we are to some of this."