Friday, February 8, 2008

Wal-Mart's New In Store Clinics To Implement EMRs

Jonathan Birchall of The Financial Times reports:

Wal-Mart is to open several hundred new walk-in medical clinics at its stores that will be co-branded under its own name.

Branded as “The Clinic at Wal-Mart,” the new facilities will be owned and operated by local healthcare groups and hospitals, but will share common systems developed by Wal-Mart, including standardised electronic medical records.
This effort comes on the heels of last month's declaration of bankruptcy by Checkups, which operated in store clinics across three states. Even so, this model is being explored not only by Wal-Mart, but by other companies, as well. The Financial Times articles mentions a few:
Target, Wal-Mart’s rival, has opted to set up walk-in clinics under a similar model in Minnesota and Maryland. CVS and Walgreens, both leading US drug store chains, have respectively bought third-party operators Minute Clinic and TakeCare Health to run clinics in their stores.
One aspect of the plan sounds ripped from the pages of George Halvorson's Health Care Reform Now! - the emphasis on e-prescriptions and EMRs. Bernie Monegain, Editor for HealthCare IT News, interviewed Wal-Mart's CEO regarding the announcement:
"We think we can even do more with prescription costs," Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott said Wednesday in a talk to 7,000 managers. "Our approach will be based on taking out unnecessary costs while providing high quality healthcare products and services. We also believe we can help with how prescriptions are filled. We will partner with doctors and other providers to increase the number of electronic prescriptions in the U.S. And, we will provide electronic health records to United States associates and their family members - including retirees - by the end of 2010."

Scott said in the coming months, Wal-Mart would be taking action to help drive down the cost of healthcare, increase the number of electronic prescriptions and promote the use of electronic medical records.
This looks like a step forward for Wal-Mart, a company besieged frequently by negative press and accusations of avoiding health care benefits for its staff. As the world's largest private employer, the transition of their employee base to EMRs should have a significant impact on the push to adopt them on a national level.

What do you, our readers, think?

SOURCE: "Wal-Mart turns its focus to e-prescribing, electronic health records" 01/24/08
SOURCE: "Wal-Mart to open hundreds of medical clinics" 02/07/08

photo courtesy of oswaldo, used under this Creative Commons license

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