Hot Dog Buns and Health Records

The next time you’re at Costco ogling flat screens and buying a pallet of paper towels, you may also be surprised to learn that Costco members are now eligible to receive incentive pricing on a Costco-branded cloud-based electronic medical record. During my maiden voyage to Costco after arriving in the Bay Area,  I saw a promotion for a Costco-branded EMR, billed as a “Service of the Month.” I was so baffled that I almost crashed into the guy with the cart brimming with hot dog buns. Fortunately, he was more amused than annoyed with me. (When I asked him to pose for this photo, he thought I was crazy.)

I’m not sure if posting marketing materials in Costco’s exit lane is an effective way to target a potential audience of EMR purchasers. However, it demonstrates that EMR marketers will take just about any approach to find a customer.

I picked up the promotional materials on the way out of the store and conducted some research after getting home. I was also surprised to learn that the Costco/EMR partnership was not a first for big-box retailers. Sam’s Club and Dell had a brief affair with another EMR company, eClinicalWorks in 2009, but soon dissolved its partnership due to lack of interest among members.

Given the failed relationship between Dell, Walmart and eClinicalWorks, why is Costco now selling a cloud-based EMR? I asked myself this question. Then I asked this question on Quora and am beginning to collect responses. What’s yours?