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Wal-Mart, eClinicalWorks Deal Exposes Need For EMR Price Transparency

Kathryn Mackenzie, for HealthLeaders Media, March 17, 2009

The blogosphere has also been buzzing with the notion that the approximately 200,000 doctors who are Sam's Club members will purchase the EMR and then be left to figure out how to use it on their own.

Also not true, says Navani. "This is the same product and same service we've been offering our 4,000 doctors for 10 years. This is not a situation where you buy some software in a box and never get training or project management. The implementation method will not change," he says.

Though everyone involved insists that this deal was in the works long before the economic stimulus package was announced, the $19 billion in federal stimulus funds is expected to be a boon for EMR vendors nationwide, which would now include Sam's Club. The $44,000 that each physician could receive through the program would be more than sufficient to offset the $25,000 cost of the eClinicalWorks bundle.

It's not clear whether the eClinicalWorks' EMRs will meet the forthcoming meaningful use guidelines; however, the product is certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, which is expected to be named the federal certification body.

Brailer says that pricing transparency has been a long time coming. "What the Certification Commission did was make product functionality more transparent. We always knew that pricing was next. Once that information is out there, you are going to see some people becoming very nervous," says Brailer.

And Navani says, bring it on. "I expect some retaliation from legacy vendors, absolutely. Because when the status quo is threatened those who want to preserve it are going to react. That's fine with us. Change for the positive only comes when you overcome the status quo," he says.

In what is a highly fragmented market with loads of vendors offering countless solutions, a transition toward price transparency is a good move for providers. If these guys are successful with this venture, the days of vendors being coy about product prices are numbered.


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Kathryn Mackenzie is technology editor of HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at kmackenzie@healthleadersmedia.com.
Note: You can sign up to receive HealthLeaders Media IT, a free weekly e-newsletter that features news, commentary and trends about healthcare technology.

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