Wal-Mart And Partners Create Health-IT Research Center

Mar 28, 2007 (01:03 PM EDT)

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Wal-Mart on Wednesday joined up with the University of Arkansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield to create a new research center to investigate ways of improving health care delivery through IT.

Wal-Mart is donating $1 million over five years to fund the new Center for Innovation in Health Care Logistics, which will be located at the university.

The center is focused on identifying and addressing "gaps and roadblocks in the application and delivery of health IT," according to a Wal-Mart statement. The goal of the center is to help eliminate medical errors "arising from wasteful and unreliable practices in health care supply network."

The center's research will address the "broad spectrum of IT in health," including identifying new benefits of technology's use in health care, as well as finding ways to promote the use of IT tools by doctors and other health-care providers, says a university spokesman.

As for Wal-Mart's involvement with the center, the retailer has a long track record of "technology expertise" in areas such as logistics that it can share as the researchers identify best practices and innovations that can also benefit health-care procurement and delivery, says a Wal-Mart spokesman.

This is Wal-Mart's second significant health-IT related investment in recent months. Last December, Wal-Mart was among a group of seven large employers -- including Intel and British Petroleum -- that launched Dossia, a multi-million dollar coalition focused on providing employees with electronic personal health records in an effort to help workers better manage their health, as well as reduce medical errors and costs.