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Retail Clinics Buddy Up with HIT and MU Lessons from a 3 Year Old

Posted on August 23, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

It seems I can’t read a blog, tweet or even old-fashioned newspaper these days without coming across some headline having to do with retail health clinics buddying up to healthcare IT. Announcements from two companies come to mind.

The first involves SoloHealth – developer of health and wellness kiosks. It received FDA approval for its product earlier this summer, and followed that development up with news of financial investment from benefits company WellPoint. It also has announced plans for a national rollout of its kiosks sometime this fall. Assuming its website is up to date, there are SoloHealth Stations across the country at retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Publix, Sam’s Club and Schnucks. CVS appears to be its only traditional retail clinic customer at the moment.

The second involves Greenway Medical – well-known developer of electronic health records for a variety of healthcare organizations, including Walgreen’s Take Care Clinics. It currently has placed its PrimeSuite EHR in more than 700 Take Care pharmacies, and just this week announced plans to implement a custom EHR – WellHealth – to coordinate other types of care in Walgreen’s locations. I’m assuming the two EHRs will play nice with other from an interoperability standpoint. Implementation of all WellHealth systems is expected to be finalized by the end of next summer.

I can’t help but point out that both of these companies are based in Atlanta, and I know for a fact that their team members congregate at similar networking events, so I wonder if we’ll see some synergy between them in the near future.

In any case, if predictions of retail clinic growth prove to be true – a recent Rand Report notes that use of retail health clinics quadrupled between 2007 and 2009, and will continue to grow – it seems likely that we’ll see HIT companies popping up in clinics across the country.

On a completely unrelated note, my daughters and I joined the rest of my company’s team members at the annual Lekotek Run 4 Kids last weekend. We had a great time and enjoyed helping out a great cause. I was a bit apprehensive that my youngest would enjoy it. Before the race began, she came up to me with number in hand and asked, “Is it okay if I lose?” Happily, she declared herself a winner after crossing the finish line and receiving a medal along with her sister and all the other kids.

I wonder if this is a sentiment physicians in smaller practices sometimes have as they consider implementing an EHR in the hopes of receiving Meaningful Use incentive money. Do some just want to throw in the towel and “lose?” Do some not want to even start the race? I’m always looking for additional Meaningful Use wisdom from the under-6 set, so please enlighten me in the comments below.

Costco Begins Selling Allscripts EMRs To Doctors

Posted on December 30, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A little earlier this month American Medical News had an article about Costco selling EHR software. This doesn’t come as a big surprise since Walmart had been selling an EHR out of Sam’s Club for quite a while. Although, that program was discontinued shortly after the initial launch. Here’s a piece of the Allscripts MyWay EHR offering in Costco for those that missed it:

Costco has partnered with Etransmedia Technology to sell Allscripts MyWay EHR and practice management systems at Costco stores nationally. The store hopes physicians looking to collect incentive money for meaningful use of electronic medical records will take advantage of the deal.

Costco executive members can implement the integrated EMR/practice management system for $499 a month. For nonexecutive members, the price is $599 a month. The pricing is based on a 60-month contract, according to, a website Etransmedia launched to promote the deal.

The Allscripts MyWay system offered by Costco is an integrated, Web-based EMR and practice management solution that includes e-prescribing, electronic claims and a patient portal. The monthly fee includes maintenance, support and hosting as well as online training. Allscripts advertises the EMR and PM systems separately on its website for $375 and $225, respectively, per full-time physician, per month.

Costco is not offering a deep discount for the systems, but the company said it is “simplifying the buying process” by offering a product it “carefully” selected.

Despite this having been done before, I’m still seeing a lot of people on social media sites that are asking why Costco would offer an EHR. The answer to me is simple: marketing. I remember reading the story of a practice that had gone through a thorough EHR selection process that was de-railed thanks to a Sam’s Club ad about EHR software. Something’s wrong with that practice in my opinion, but the reality of EHR sales is that the sale often hinges on the littlest thing. Even if that little thing is a Costco ad.

Yes, Costco EHR just doesn’t make sense, but when you consider it as a relatively inexpensive way to market your product to doctors, maybe it’s not that strange. Although, I could think of other more targeted ways to market EHR software.

While you’re at Costco purchasing your EHR, be sure to pick up a pack of those Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches. I’m sure they’ll make a great addition to your EHR implementation. It’s amazing what food will do to enhance staff morale.

Free EMRs, Ads and EMR Pricing

Posted on September 19, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Last week, I wrote about a conversation with a physician friend on the costs of moving to an EMR. That conversation segued into a discussion of free EMRs and how they can be a good thing for small (definitely a game changer for solo or two-practitioner) practices. This week, I’m analyzing free EMRs from the advertising angle. My friend made a comment during our discussion that gave me pause. He said he didn’t want advertisements distracting him when he was talking to a patient, he’d rather spring for a package that charged him a few dollars a month than one that had ads embedded inside it.

I think the ad question is pertinent to both sides of the equation. As a physician, I don’t want the 15 minutes I spend per patient cut down even more, because I want to get rid of those pesky pharmaceutical ads. As a patient, I don’t want to get the feeling that I’m the third wheel in the space between my doctor and his iPad.

And frankly, the low or no-cost, high volume Walmart strategy doesn’t make much sense to me in the long term. This is not based on some well-pedigreed consumer behavior study but what I’ve generally witnessed, or done myself. I’ve trained myself on the art of selective blocking. When I’m on Google, I studiously avoid looking at the highlighted links on the right, and top of the page. The same way, on eBay, when I’m looking for job opps, I generally skim past the purple highlighted vendors. If you’re a TV junkie, think about when you take your bathroom breaks.

In other words, we all have our own blocking strategies to ignore ads, which is probably not such good news for advertisers. This is not to say that advertisers won’t advertise, or vendors won’t make money.

If doctors already have some amount of natural reticence to ads, how are free EMR vendors going to make money? (I’m not sure if the ad model in free EMR packages is click/pageview driven, or a set price for simply being placed on the page, like magazine ads.) Free EMR vendors might then also offer ad-free versions, for additional dollars a month. At this point, they become just like other EMRs – i.e. when the costs are non-zero, price will not be the only differentiating factor when you’re judging EMR quality.

And yet, if my friend spends $100 a month for an ad-free EMR, as one vendor is offering, he’ll spend only $1200 a year personally for EMR, and be able to avail his Medicare 44K, as opposed to the 80K-100K EMR bids he’s currently getting. Even when ads (or lack of them) are factored out of the EMR pricing, the ad-removal-for-a-price model tends to work better for smaller practices.

Based on this, I feel like we’re going to see some steep discounting in EMR prices.

Cerner and CDW Join Forces to Sell EHR

Posted on October 20, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The things going on in the EMR industry right now are really quite amazing. First, we hear about the Walmart EMR and then Dell comes out with a Dell EMR. Then, Dell acquires Perot Systems to add to their portfolio of services and software. That’s a lot of big name companies joining in on the EMR fun.

Now it’s been announced that Cerner and CDW are joining forces to Sell EHR and “offer a single touchpoint for EHR adoption.” Here’s a portion of the email I received:

Beginning November 1, CDW Healthcare will offer Cerner Corporation’s ambulatory EHR solutions to physician practices. The collaboration, which marks the first time the complete suite of Cerner ambulatory solutions for physician practices will be available through a national channel partner, will provide practice managers with a single touchpoint for hardware and software procurement, technology expertise, solutions guidance, and deployment services.

It’s an interesting partnership to have a hardware vendor join with a software vendor like this. I guess CDW also sells software, but usually it’s off the shelf mass market software. At the end of the day this is all about more sales channels for Cerner.

The most important question is which big company will be the next one trying to cash in on EMR software?