Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute Implements Contingency Plan to Overcome National Clearinghouse Outage

Press Release

Statewide Practice Providing Direct Outreach to Patients and Insurers to Process Verifications.

Fort Myers, Fla., March 7, 2024 – In the wake of the cyberattack and subsequent outage of Change Healthcare, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC (FCS) stands resolute in its commitment to patient care and safety. Change Healthcare, the nation’s largest clearinghouse for prescriptions, shut down its prescription processing system impacting over 900,000 physicians, 67,000 pharmacies, and 5,500 hospitals in the United States, including FCS and its medically integrated pharmacy, Rx To Go, LLC. Despite the challenges imposed by Change Healthcare’s outage, the FCS and Rx To Go dedicated teams remained steadfast in delivering the highest standard of care to patients.

Implementing contingency plan to overcome national clearinghouse outage -- Image Credit: © Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC

Image Credit: © Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC

As FCS learned of the shutdown, a comprehensive contingency plan was put in place to ensure that patient care continues with minimal disruption. Dedicated FCS and Rx To Go team members are working directly with patients and their insurance providers to obtain insurance verification and prior authorization for new patients, those receiving intravenous (IV) therapies in the clinic and those needing oral prescription refills. In some instances, our teams are also working with other pharmacies to fulfill the prescription needs of patients.

On Monday, March 4, 2024, replacement processing systems were integrated into FCS’ systems to substitute for Change Healthcare as a solution to the more than ten-day shutdown of their prior prescription processing technology. FCS and Rx To Go have since enacted these new processing systems and are being aggressive in recovery efforts to ensure minimal impact or delays to its patients.

Patients needing to discuss oral prescription or refill processing may call the FCS Rx To Go pharmacy at: (239) 275-5357 or (866) 979-8646.

“This recent incident has not only tested our resilience but also underscores the critical importance of cybersecurity, especially in the healthcare environment. As we navigate this most recent and unfortunate scenario, our priority remains with our patients who are the recipients of these ill-fated circumstances, already amid treatment or anxiously awaiting the start of these life-saving medications,” says FCS President & Managing Physician Lucio N. Gordan, MD.

Rx To Go dispenses oral oncology and hematology medications to FCS patients. The specialty pharmacy supports patients in accessing these critical drugs utilizing a personalized approach that incorporates patient, caregiver, care team and prescriber. Patients benefit from one-on-one counseling and follow-ups, regular monitoring and side effect management, 24/7 access to licensed clinical pharmacists, immediate access to electronic patient records and prior authorization initiation and follow-up.

“In situations like this, our concern lies with how our patients and their families are affected by the uncertainty and added stressors incurred. Throughout this entire event, our teams have never wavered in their dedication to taking care of our patients. We are leveraging every resource at our disposal to address these adversities and exploring all of our options to restore normal functionality to our insurance verification processes and recover from any intrinsic setbacks that have been created,” said FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan H. Walcker.

While the insurance verification processing has resumed for FCS and Rx To Go, a cumulation of multiple weeks’ worth of claims across the nation has created a largescale backlog still needing to be resolved. FCS is working directly with insurers to regain timely insurance verifications for patients, but there is no clear timeframe for a widespread solution.

The toll from more than a dozen days and now hundreds of manpower hours dedicated to navigating this grave situation is growing exponentially. The inability to properly bill insurers is quickly diminishing the financial stability of healthcare providers nationwide and FCS is no exception. Where FCS spends upwards of $300 million each month on life-saving medication for its patients, without proper reimbursement for these drugs and taking into consideration labor and overhead expenses to support the normal business function across its nearly 100-clinics, plus now the added overhead dedicated to resources aiding in the recovery of this Change Healthcare outage, the financial outlook of FCS and the thousands of practices and providers affected by this cyberattack is devastating.

At the root of it all, patients are the real victims, as their lives depend on these high-cost therapies. To overcome the lasting effects from this attack on the medical community, it will require industry-wide collaborative efforts and interventions.

Additional coverage of how the Change Healthcare cyberattack is impacting FCS and the medical community has been covered in nationwide and local news outlets, including the New York Times and NBC News:
Cyberattack Paralyzes the Largest U.S. Health Care Payment System
Patients struggle to get lifesaving medication after cyberattack on a major health care company

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