Walmart deploys Epic medical records tech across its health centers, virtual care services

Walmart has tapped Epic to use its electronic health records system to connect records across all of its healthcare services, including virtual care.

Epic’s EHR system will first be rolled out in four Walmart Health centers in Florida in early 2022. Epic's technology will eventually support all of Walmart’s health and wellness lines of business.

The partnership with Epic will enable a more unified healthcare experience for consumers, the retail giant said in its announcement this week.

Through a single, unified system, Walmart Health will engage patients, healthcare professionals, insurance carriers and other stakeholders while enhancing communication, personalization and information sharing among healthcare professionals and patients utilizing a patient portal, according to Walmart executives.

“Our vision to provide best-in-class health care, anywhere, anytime includes a seamless experience for our customers, health care professional partners and associates. Leveraging best-in-class partners like Epic and their technology platform will assist us in providing a unified health record across care settings, geographies and multiple sources of health data,” said Cheryl Pegus, M.D., executive vice president, Walmart Health and Wellness, in a statement.

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“The Epic system complements our omnichannel health care offerings—letting customers and health care professionals access care and health records to lead to more personalized care.”

The partnership with Epic signals a strategic move for Walmart as ramps up its healthcare business.

Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, made a splash a year ago when it opened the first of its clinics in Dallas, Georgia. 

Walmart Health has since grown to include plans to open at least 22 such locations in Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Arkansas by the end of 2021. The clinics offer services like primary care, imaging, dental care, counseling and lab tests. The company reportedly filed to open up seven of its one-stop health clinics in locations across northeast Florida, the Florida-based Jax Daily Record reported earlier this month.

Prior to the switch to Epic, the retail giant used athenahealth's EHR solution for its health centers.

Walmart also struck a deal with Oak Street Health, a tech-enabled, value-based care primary care startup, to open up clinics at Walmart supercenters.

Further, the retailer made a push into health insurance by launching a Medicare-focused brokerage and teaming with Clover Health on co-branded Medicare Advantage plans.

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Walmart is also moving deeper into digital health by snapping up a prescription management app from startup CareZone last year. And the retailer is going all-in on telehealth as its health division plans to acquire multispecialty telehealth provider MeMD.

Epic commands around one-third of the U.S. EHR market, according to KLAS Research.  

Epic is used by more than 2,000 hospitals and 45,000 clinics, including most of U.S. News & World Report’s top-ranked hospitals and medical schools. To date, a majority of the U.S. population has medical records in an Epic system.

“We’re excited to power Walmart’s vision to bring comprehensive, accessible health care to patients across the country,” said Alan Hutchison, vice president of population health at Epic, in a statement.

“Across medical, dental and virtual care, patients will have a unified experience—both within Walmart Health clinics and as they move across the nation’s health care ecosystem. Providers will have new ways to collaborate with patients, payers and each other more effectively, so they can work cooperatively to manage a patient’s care journey," Hutchison said.

The Walmart Health partnership news comes on the heels of Epic's announcement that its vaccine credential technology is now available to 25 million patients. About 70 million to 80 million people will have access to the technology tool by the end of the year, with more than 100 million people having access by 2022, Epic executives said, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal

The technology binds a person’s identity, including name and date of birth, with vaccination or lab results, and the vaccine credentials can be represented by the QR codes, which are digitally signed to prevent tampering. They can also be displayed through MyChart on a mobile device, printed or saved to another mobile application, Epic executives said.