Electronic Medical Records

The Economist writes:

On December 6th Wal-Mart announced plans to launch Dossia, an online patient-information service, next year. The retail giant was joined by other big firms including Intel and BP’s American division, representing some 2.5m employees, dependants and pensioners in total. Curiously, they are relying not on some Silicon Valley powerhouse but on the Omnimedix Institute, a non-profit firm based in Oregon, to build and run the new system.

Electronic medical records will not increase sales at BP or Wal-Mart. Why are these big firms joining hands to embrace this untested and previously unsuccessful idea? BP’s Pat Miller says that many of her firm’s employees move frequently, so portable records would be more convenient for them. Wal-Mart’s Linda Dillman says her firm likes the independent and non-profit status of Dossia. The data will come out of the commercial space and become the property of the individual, she says.

Those are laudable goals, but some believe the main motivation for this new effort is simpler: containing costs.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.