Coalition Including Intel And Wal-Mart Plan Electronic Medical Records For Employees - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Enterprise Applications
06:30 PM
Connect Directly

Coalition Including Intel And Wal-Mart Plan Electronic Medical Records For Employees

They see the tools as one way to try to get rising U.S. health care costs under control.

Intel chairman Craig Barrett has preached for years how critical it is to use IT to transform the health care industry. Wal-Mart's Linda Dillman this year switched from CIO to an executive role that involves improving the company's employee health care programs. Now their two companies, along with Pitney Bowes, British Petroleum, and others, plan to create a massive data warehouse that could eventually give all their employees online access to their personal health records.

The warehouse project, expected to be announced this week, will let employees access integrated data from medical claims and care providers, and likely information they enter about their medical histories. The goal is to let employees compare costs, availability of services, and to some extent performance across care providers, putting more power into their hands.

Barrett's ready to force change

Barrett's ready to force change

Photo by Sipa Press
The initiative may also include the ability to fill prescriptions electronically and advise patients on how to stay healthy. Some patient record systems already in use, including those offered by WebMD, bring in quality-of-care data so patients can compare, for example, mortality rates, complication rates, and lengths of stay for certain procedures across hospitals.

For the companies involved, the main goal is to rein in expenses related to employee medical coverage. Those layouts next year will rise 6%, HR consulting firm Towers Perrin estimates, while inflation is running around 2.4% this year. Employers will pay 58% more and employees 81% more next year for U.S. health care than they did in 2002, Towers Perrin says. Intel will spend about $1 billion on employee health care this year.

Impatient with the health care industry's slow pace of change, Intel, Wal-Mart, and the others are pooling their information, technology acumen, and clout as buyers to force the U.S. system to be more cost conscious. "Health care is pricing itself out of business," Intel's Barrett told a health care conference in September, arguing that those costs are one reason the United States loses jobs to other countries. "If we can use our purchasing power to drive massive adoption of technology and procedures and best known methods which provide better care at lower cost, we ought to get into that debate."

InformationWeek Download


The proposed data warehouse won't replace the need for hospitals and doctors to create their own interoperable systems for electronic medical records. The industry is moving toward that goal, expecting that better information-sharing will lead to better care and fewer mistakes. It's an effort marked by fast progress by a few regional health care leaders but far from widespread adoption (see story, p. 38).

The coalition, first sketched out last week in an article in The Wall Street Journal, plans to create a nonprofit organization to run the data warehouse, in part to assure people that their employers won't have access to their health data. The project will begin by developing standards and a pilot for a limited number of employees and retirees, later to be rolled out to all employees. Six to 10 companies are involved with the business group, a source close to the project says. Toyota is among those considering joining the project, sources say; Toyota had no comment on the project as of press time.

Separately, a few major companies have their own electronic health records initiatives under way. Microsoft is involved in a pilot project with insurer Premera Blue Cross, a physicians' group based in Washington state, and health IT vendor Relay Health to see if such a record system can decrease employee sick time. Dell recently announced it would begin importing data from pharmacies and medical claims into a personal health records system for its employees. EMC employees use a portal from WebMD. IBM gives its 150,000 U.S. employees the option to use a personal health record system that also estimates treatment costs, automatically reminds people when they should take their medicine, and compares hospital quality. Dr. Paul Grundy, the company's director of health care technology, has been sharing his experiences with the Intel-led coalition over the last few weeks.

"This is a tipping-point situation," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, an employers' association. "It is very safe to say that every large employer in the United States will either enable through a health plan or portal or help make available through some vendor personal health records and benefits."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

New Storage Trends Promise to Help Enterprises Handle a Data Avalanche
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  4/1/2021
11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
How to Submit a Column to InformationWeek
InformationWeek Staff 4/9/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll