Walmart taps Epic to double down on its digital health push

The news: Walmart Health selected Epic as its electronic health records (EHR) partner. 

  • It will use Epic’s EHR platform to connect health records across all of Walmart’s healthcare services (including virtual care) and enable a more unified healthcare experience for consumers.  
  • Epic’s EHR system will first be rolled out in four Walmart Health centers in Florida in early 2022. 

How we got here: Walmart only launched its first health clinic in 2019, but it’s kicked its expansion plan into high gear since—and an EHR deal signals Walmart means business.

  • Just this month, Walmart announced it will establish 7 more retail clinics in Florida, which aligns with its plans to open 22 new clinics by the end of 2021. 
  • These clinics grant patients access to healthcare services like primary care, on-site lab testing, dental and vision services, and psychiatric care. 

Walmart has been digging deeper into digital health, too: 

  • In June 2020, it acquired prescription management platform CareZone to offer medication management and delivery services. 
  • In September 2020, Walmart struck a deal with Medicare-focused primary care company Oak Street Health to integrate its primary care services into three major supercenters. 

But here’s one big signal for why it chose Epic as its EHR partner: In May of this year, Walmart acquired telehealth provider MeMD

  • Prior to switching over to Epic, Walmart used athenahealth as its EHR provider—but Epic ranked as the top EHR vendor in the US market this year, and was noted for having the widest breadth of telehealth capabilities, according to KLAS’ 2021 report. 

Why it matters: This is a strategic move for Walmart—Epic makes its healthcare services interoperable with more mainstream healthcare providers, like health systems. 

  • While data exchange has improved over the years, when the same platform is used it’s still rated as easier by providers, per a 2021 CHIME-KLAS report.
  • And Epic is the most used EHR platform, commanding around one-third of the US EHR market. Its footprint spans 2,000 hospitals and 4,500 clinics—a valuable pool of providers for Walmart to potentially have a relationship with.  

Plus, achieving interoperability with mainstream healthcare providers could help Walmart’s retail clinics build more credibility in healthcare and boost consumer trust: 

  • 27% of consumers don’t really trust retail health clinics, per Morning Consult’s 2021 National Tracking Poll. 

Go deeper: Learn more about how retail health clinics are banking on the COVID-19 bump here.