Physician practices forced to use paper records lash out at Allscripts over ransomware response

A computer keyboard with the word ransomware highlighted in red
Physicians around the country have been forced to use pen and paper after a ransomware attack took out access to Allscripts' EHR. (Getty/BeeBright)

Allscripts is still working to bring its cloud-hosted services back online after a ransomware attack took down several applications, prompting an outcry from physicians who lost access to their EHR and appointment systems. 

In a notice to Allscripts clients early Monday morning, the company said its Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) had been restored, but the company is still working to restore cloud-hosted services like Allscripts PM and its Professional EHR. Those outages are becoming increasingly frustrating for smaller physician practices that have resorted to pen and paper after having no access to medical records, scheduling or payment systems for the last five days.

“Allscripts has totally dropped the ball in downplaying what is going on and not coming forward with exactly what is happening,” Mansoor Ahmed, the office manager for Capital Internal Medicine, a single-physician practice in Raleigh, North Carolina, told FierceHealthcare. “All the stuff they have brought back up are secondary services.”

RELATED: Allscripts hit with a ransomware attack affecting a 'limited number' of applications

In a notice to clients, Allscripts said it expects to fully restore EHR systems “on a rolling basis” throughout Monday, but could not provide specifics about when those services would return.

“While we cannot guarantee that the hosted Professional suite and hosted Allscripts PM service will be fully restored to all clients on Monday, Jan. 22, we do currently expect to return meaningful service to the majority of clients over the next 12-24 hours," the notice states. 

An Allscripts spokesperson did not respond to a request asking for an update on the ransomware attack.

Many physician practices took issue with the company’s portrayal that the ransomware attack affected a “limited number” of applications. Megan Krablin, who manages Krablin Medical Clinic in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, says that is “a gross mischaracterization.”

“This is affecting hundreds of thousands of people,” she told FierceHealthcare.

Allscripts is used by 45,000 physician practices and 180,000 physicians, but it's unclear how many were affected by the attack on the company’s data centers in North Carolina. But providers say the company's response has been subpar. 

“They just want to sweep it under the rug,” Krablin added. “They don’t want it to be a national headline.”

It appears hospitals and health systems were less impacted by the outage since many host EHRs on their own data centers rather than Allscripts servers. A spokesperson for Northwell Health told FierceHealthcare that access to electronic prescribing was restored over the weekend. The health system disconnected from Allscripts servers after learning about the attack on Thursday. 

In the meantime, many providers still do not have access to patient medical histories, labs, scheduling or payment applications. Krablin says her Oklahoma clinic has reverted to paper records and stopped taking copays. Several office managers complained that there has been inadequate communication from the company about exactly what is happening and when services will be restored.

“We’re just winging it,” Ahmed says. “We’re making hard copies and calling in prescriptions.”