800# Gorilla Part II

As follow-up to a previous post about the 800# gorilla that is Wal-Mart entering the EMR fray, I came across this post from the firm Software Advice for Electronic Health Records.

They go a few levels deeper than my simple reporting on the topic and posit, and accurately so, that Wal-Mart getting into EMRs isn't the boon that you may think. I happen to agree having been on the delivery side to healthcare for a decade, the last mile is always the toughest and despite the attention and momentum, that doesn't change because Wal-Mart decides to get involved.

I can imagine the hoots and hollers in the eClinicalWorks office after the deal was done, and it may make some sales guys' quarter, but I will be waiting and watching to see how it may or may not impact actual delivery to the physician.

Wal-Mart is savvy and scary smart in terms of their analysis of data, customer trends and squeezing costs out of the supply chain. They may be holding an ace up their sleeve that I can't see, but my guess is that in the short-term it is a well timed move to engender good will, some foot traffic, PR and potentially be a component of a longer term play.

Here is a brief excerpt and be sure to check out the above link for a well-done analysis of the execution side.

Furthermore, we do see some very real sales and services challenges arising from this partnership. Simply put: sophisticated, $25,000 EMR systems don’t sell themselves. Get a Wal-Mart “greeter” involved and things could get ugly. Wal-Mart has already stumbled a bit trying to support the relatively complex sale of iPhones. EMRs are a far more complex sale. My mind goes to the horribly awkward image of a brilliant, yet intolerant, cardiologist interrogating a greeter about eCW functionality. The mismatch of intellect and clinical expertise could be incendiary.

A $25,000 EMR is a “considered purchase”; for example, a physician practice needs to consider if the system meets their functionally requirements, integrates to other systems (e.g. RHIOs or diagnostic systems) or qualifies for subsidies such as the recent economic stimulus package. eCW certainly does meet many, many providers’ needs; however, a physician will not likely buy the system if there isn’t a highly qualified representative available to give them comfort through a consultative sales process.

Sam’s Club has over 600 locations, which is almost how many employees eCW has. It is highly unlikely that Wal-Mart or eCW would be able to staff up fast enough or effectively enough to provide sales support across a majority of these locations. Nor does that level of staffing seem efficient; I doubt there would be enough physicians coming through Sam’s Club door to keep that staff busy.

Video from Software Advice.

| www.jlefevere.com |

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