Wal-Mart to sell EHR systems

April 3, 2009

In what's being touted as a potential game-changer for health information technology, Wal-Mart is entering the business of electronic health records.

In what's being touted as a potential game-changer for health information technology, Wal-Mart is entering the business of electronic health records. The retail giant plans to offer a technology package of Dell-brand computer hardware, plus software, installation, maintenance, and training provided by the medical software maker eClinicalWorks.

The packages will be geared toward small-practice primary care physicians, who face pressure from the Obama administration to implement EHR systems by 2014. The packages are expected to start at around $25,000 and will be available online beginning in May through Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division.

Gerald Nussbaum, director of technology services for Kurt Salmon Associates, an Atlanta-based healthcare consulting firm, isn't sold on Wal-Mart's entry into healthcare. He says the issue of EHR implementation and interoperability might require more than just rollback pricing.

Wal-Mart sees great opportunity in the health industry, from its $4 prescriptions to its 400 co-branded, in-store medical clinics scheduled to be in place by 2010.

"The real value for Wal-Mart and whatever relationship it develops with an EHR vendor is the implementation of an EHR in all of its store-front clinics." says John Janas III, MD, president and CEO of Clinical Content Consultants LLC, of Concord, New Hampshire. "If you are going to be shuttling in patients like through a checkout line, you're going to need to be efficient."

-David Bennett, Senior Editor