Information technology and distribution (a.k.a. “bodies”) is what you need to succeed in healthcare these days and those are two things that Wal-Mart has more of than anyone else, according to columnist and former financial adviser Ron Galloway.
Galloway, who directed the 2006 documentary “Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy,” was the opening keynote speaker at Trumbull, Conn.-based JDEvents' 22nd annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo in Chicago on Wednesday. He told attendees that Wal-Mart's promotion, sale and use of the eClinicalWorks electronic health record “is the biggest thing going on in healthcare right now.”
Working with Dell, Wal-Mart is selling the EHRs to doctors at its Sam's Club stores for $25,000. But Galloway said it's the company's push to get its 1.4 million employees' health records electronically formatted and its business strategy that could see a projected 22 million patients visiting its EHR-using retail clinics by 2014 that will make it a major force in healthcare IT.
Galloway said Wal-Mart currently lags behind CVS and Walgreen Co. in the retail clinic race, but plans to have some 2,000 in-store clinics open by 2014 with a business model that says 11,000 patient visits a year need to use the retail clinic's services for the facility to break even.
Galloway compared Wal-Mart's plan with Google and Microsoft's efforts to get into healthcare and said Wal-Mart comes out ahead because, while Google and Microsoft have the economics to give them political clout, they don't “have the bodies” that Wal-Mart has.
“Wal-Mart has the scale nobody else has,” Galloway said, adding that—if it refers 10% of its clinic patients to hospitals where they each run up a $1,000 healthcare bill—Wal-Mart could soon be connected to 4% of all healthcare spending.
Galloway also touched on another heated controversy: whether to use EMR for “electronic medical record” or EHR for “electronic health record.”
“You know something's new and screwed up when they can't even decide on an acronym,” Galloway said.