Wal-Mart EHR not necessarily affordable

April 10, 2009

Wal-Mart's EHR package offered to physicians may require more than just its marketing presence.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is entering the business of electronic health records. Specifically, the giant retailer is offering a technology package of Dell hardware, software from eClinicalWorks, installation, service maintenance and training for primary care practitioners and other physicians for $25,000.

Gerald Nussbaum, director of technology services for Kurt Salmon Associates in Atlanta, a consulting firm that assists healthcare providers, isn’t completely sold. He says the issue of EHR implementation and interoperability might require more than just Wal-Mart’s marketing presence.

“Even at Wal-Mart low prices, this is not that affordable to physicians,” Nussbaum says. “The prices are for the software, hardware and some support. This does not take into account the entire cost of the EHR.”

Wal-Mart sees opportunity in the health industry, and this effort comes soon after its $4 prescription program and plans to open 400 in-store medical clinics 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, N.H. “If you are going to be shuttling in patients like through a checkout line, you’re going to need to be efficient.”

Sam’s Club Spokeswoman Susan Koehler says its retail customers include physicians in small practices. Forty-five days from being rolled out nationwide, the company was still addressing its long-term service contracts.

The package will be available online in May through Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club division.