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Walmart Stimulus Effect

by jingemi

It seems that the stimulus is starting to take effect. Walmart is now offering a simplified EMR system in conjunction with Dell and EClinical works. For $25K, a small practice can get the EMR system and maintenance for about $8000. (Check out this NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/business/11record.html?em) For $44K, a practice can get a more advanced system. Walmart will sell these systems through Sam’s Club. Interestingly, these costs are very simiar to the EMR reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid providers.

First of all, I commend Walmart. They are showing an astute sensitivity to the market environment. They have geared their product offering to government funding. Additionally, they are utilizing their reach into underserved areas to ensure that those providers will have access to EMR. Personally, I feel vindicated since I had recommended on my blog www.healthitpolitics.com that the govenrment simply subsidize the purchase of Health IT and the private sector would then figure out the contours.

However, I do want to cite two ironies. First, Walmart is often villianized yet they are leading a major innovation. Second, Walmart is known for its efficiency in managing its workforce. So job creation may not occur.

For the rest of us in Health IT, it is not the end of the road just as the adoption of the computer did not mean the end of IT but rather the beginning. Areas where the Health IT community should focus are:

-Interchange of data among providers;

-Best-practices in utilizing Health IT especially in clinical delivery to include government-mandated practices;

-population health

-community education and outreach.

So overall, this is a great development and I hope that there are similar ones to come.


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