The Wal-Mart Way

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2009-03-31 Print this article Print

Can a non-profit consortium tackle some of healthcare's biggest issues? Dossia aims to find out -- with Wal-Mart as a key testing environment.

The giant retailer began offering access to electronic health records to employees in the fall of 2008. The partnership with Dossia “helps Wal-mart provide our associates with the tools they need to become more engaged in their own health,” says a spokesman for the company. “We know that if we give our associates the information and the tools to manage that information, they'll make better, more informed decisions about their health care.”

Through Dossia and Wal-mart’s health IT initiatives, “we believe that many of the current system's inefficiencies can be reduced, if not eliminated,” the spokesman says. “For example, tests or x-rays don't need to be repeated because the original results haven't been lost or misplaced.”

More than 50,000 Wal-Mart employees have enrolled in personal health record (PHR) accounts through its partnership with Dossia and WebMD. “We've only offered PHRs for six months, so we're pleased at the response from our associates and we expect enrollment to continue to rise in the months ahead,” the spokesman says.

Wal-Mart IT performed a “complete security review” of the
Dossia system. But other than certifying that an individual is eligible for a PHR account, Wal-Mart holds no other functional role in the process. While Wal-Mart has no access to individual health data, the company is able to view reports on aggregate data from WebMD, which enables Wal-mart to better target employees’ health needs.

Another company, mailstream technology and services provider Pitney Bowes Inc., is in the planning stages of a Dossia deployment. “We see this as a continuation of our investment in the health of our employees, filling a gap and helping to drive the transformation of healthcare delivery as it’s done today,” says Andy Gold, executive director, global benefits planning, at the company.

Gold says he expects that employees using Dossia will have more complete information to share with their healthcare providers. “The information is in one place so a physician will be able to get up to speed relatively quickly by [accessing] that information,” he says. “This will have huge value to our employees.”

While the Dossia service is currently available only to individuals based in the U.S., Munini expects there will be worldwide access in the future. “We will follow the desires of our founding organizations and other customers,” he says. “The goal is to really help drive down costs over time by giving people the tools they need to manage their own health information.” 


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