Walgreens Boots Alliance will toss out its proprietary electronic health-record system at more than 400 in-store Healthcare Clinics and replace it with an EHR from Epic Systems Corp., the Deerfield, Ill.,-based drugstore chain announced Thursday.
It's the second big drugstore clinic deal for Epic, coming roughly 20 months after CVS Health selected the company to replace its home-grown EHR in its in-store MinuteClinics.
At the time, CVS said it had 800 clinics with plans for 1,500. Today, CVS has 1,035 clinics, all of which have converted to Epic's EHR, according to CVS.
About 10.5 million patients a year (PDF) visit more than 1,800 retail clinics in the U.S., according to a recent report by Manatt Health Solutions, the healthcare division of law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Traditional provider organizations have also joined the fray.
Over the past year, Epic has been assailed by its competitors and some members of Congress for its EHR system's alleged lack of interoperability.
That criticism has even been picked up in mainstream media. Mother Jones magazine, in a recent article, prominently mentioned Epic and Judith Faulkner, its founder and CEO, saying, “Epic has helped create a fragmented system that leaves doctors unable to trade information across practices or hospitals.”
Earlier this year, Epic announced it was dropping fees it has been charging for data transfers between Epic customers and non-Epic customers through its Care Everywhere interoperability network.
The capability of Epic's EHR to communicate with other providers, specifically through its Care Everywhere network, was cited by Walgreens not as a bug, but as a feature.
“This state-of-the-industry EHR will enable more seamless communication with health systems and local providers and gives us enhanced capabilities to deliver better health outcomes through greater care coordination and interoperability,” said Dr. Patrick Carroll, chief medical officer for Walgreens' Healthcare Clinics, in a news release.
The Care Everywhere network, “The largest in the U.S. ... will connect with other healthcare organizations to securely share a patient's medication list, assisting with medication reconciliation and review during Healthcare Clinic visits,” the Walgreens statement said.