Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, big transitions happen in small steps.
But every once in a while a step is taken that changes the landscape significantly. One step possibly of that order was taken this week when Greenway Medical Technologies announced that drug store giant Walgreens is ramping up implementation of Greenway’s EHR throughout the Walgreens chain.
Currently, the Greenway product is in about 200 Walgreens stores, but the plan is to have all of the chains 8,000 locations plugged in by the end of next summer.
“The deployment of (Greenway’s) EHR technology advances our pharmacy staff’s ability to provide integrated and comprehensive healthcare services in the communities where people live and work, said Tim Theriault, Walgreens CIO at the time of the announcement. “With a view into a customer’s prescription, immunization and health testing record, our pharmacy staff can provide additional recommendations, such as whether the customer is due for a specific immunization.”
According to Greenway, once the rollout is complete, Walgreens pharmacy staff will have up-to-date patient immunization and health testing information combined with pharmacy information regardless of the Walgreens location where a patient received the service.
Just for kicks, we searched for a map of Walgreens locations to get a sense of what the implications of such a move might be. After all, according to Greenway, the Wellness product Walgreens is implementing “supports additional pharmacy, health and wellness services in the future, including integration with electronic prescribing and data exchange that tracks patients throughout the care continuum.” So, in view of what we found for a map, the system-wide implementation of the Walgreens EHR is going to spread a veritable blanket of health IT functionality across the country.
Sure, there are some holes (They don’t call it Big Sky country for nothing.), and one chain’s implementation does not a NHIN make. But given the number of providers that will probably be tapping into the Walgreens network over time, it seems safe to say that many more patients are going to be able to go a bit more digital in the reasonably near future.
Jeff Rowe blogs regularly at EHRWatch.com.