Costco begins selling EMRs

The discount warehouse's offer follows an unsuccessful attempt by Sam's Club to enter the practice management market.

By — Posted Dec. 15, 2011

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Physicians with memberships at Costco discount warehouse stores can now pick up some technology for the office.

Costco has partnered with Etransmedia Technology to sell Allscripts MyWay EHR and practice management systems at Costco stores nationally. The store hopes physicians looking to collect incentive money for meaningful use of electronic medical records will take advantage of the deal.

Costco executive members can implement the integrated EMR/practice management system for $499 a month. For nonexecutive members, the price is $599 a month. The pricing is based on a 60-month contract, according to, a website Etransmedia launched to promote the deal.

The Allscripts MyWay system offered by Costco is an integrated, Web-based EMR and practice management solution that includes e-prescribing, electronic claims and a patient portal. The monthly fee includes maintenance, support and hosting as well as online training. Allscripts advertises the EMR and PM systems separately on its website for $375 and $225, respectively, per full-time physician, per month.

Costco is not offering a deep discount for the systems, but the company said it is "simplifying the buying process" by offering a product it "carefully" selected.

Although the company has been known to offer products not usually sold at retail stores -- it made headlines in 2004 for going into the casket market, for example -- Costco isn't the first discount warehouse to offer an EMR system.

Walmart Stores Inc. entered a similar arrangement with eClinical Works and Dell in 2009 to sell a bundled EMR/computer package at its Sam's Club warehouse stores. Despite what the company said was a "very positive" initial response, it discontinued the offer only months after it launched.

"Due to difficulties in sustaining resources to meet the high-touch customization and hands-on technical service required to implement the package, and trends in physician offices folding into local hospital systems that then have a turnkey product for their practices, the eCw program at Sam's Club effectively ended about two years ago," Sam's Club spokeswoman Carrie Foster said in an emailed statement to American Medical News.

However, Costco is undeterred by its competitor's experience.

"We took our time in researching the [EMR/PM] industry in an effort to help bring value and simplify the decision process for Costco members owning or operating a medical practice," John Conlon, Costco's director of the EMR/PM service, said in a prepared statement. "We want our members to keep as much of the $44,000 in stimulus funds for the business as possible."

Millennium Research Group said in its November report, "U.S. Markets for Electronic Medical Records 2012," that the U.S. market for EMRs will exceed $8 billion by 2016, with the fastest-growing segment occurring in the small-practice market. Web-based EMRs that don't require an expensive information technology infrastructure are contributing to the growth, the report said, because they are an affordable option for small practices on tight budgets.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story