Wal-Mart, that whipping dog that dares to give most of the American people what they want, is now stepping on Obama's toes. Digital health records have long been a policy point for Obama, and they seem like a no-brainer provided that they're done in an effective manner
The stimulus package included $19 billion in incentives in an attempt to begin the transition from paper to PC, but money from the government always comes with strings. In all honesty, Wal-Mart's program will probably be more effective, and arrive sooner than Washington's.
Keen corporations are like a theoretical efficient dictatorship. When they make a decision, they first perform all sorts of research, they do the math and they do their very best to capitalize on a market. And when that decision is made it's final until the leadership is axed and someone else takes the wheel. If the leadership is capable, there's no reason to trust anyone else, every word from the top of the hierarchy is the gospel provided that the cash continues to flow.
The constituents of a corporation are driven by simple needs, all of which are focused around money. Stockholders want dividends, employees want better wages and the board of directors want yachts and buxom blondes. There's very little of the wishy-washy emotional baggage and ideological bickering that splits Washington apart, at the end of the day it's money, not service to a community or appeasing a minority (or majority) group.
Mass public delusions, such as the referendums on gay marriage that have been all the rage lately, many of which further closed the door on same-sex marriages, fed upon emotion, religion and intolerance. If the choice was up to Wal-Mart, they'd certainly see their strong consumer base of southerners and Christians who would ready their pickets if they were to support gay marriage, but there's money to be made! Bouquets to be sold, dresses to be exchanged and booze to be bought.
If it was profitable, and if Wal-Mart stayed true to its most base of intentions, they'd have no problem with gay marriage. The right-wingers would have to put up with it, because their loyalty to Wal-Mart isn't ethical but monetary, by offering customers the best prices, Wal-Mart ultimately has more support than any politician ever could.
Now of course, dictatorships aren't a good thing, and sure there are plenty of votes that take place within the corporate system, but who's going to question the leadership that continues to bring in the dough? No one in the banking system, despite the obvious flaws in the system, kicked out their leadership until after the crisis, because the imaginary profits were still being made. A democracy that is effectively neutered by success is no democracy at all.
There's certainly room for worries in regard to Wal-Mart having their hands on such a large amount of personal information, medical records aren't like a list of purchased items at Amazon or iTunes preferences, they're incredibly personal. Privacy advocates will worry that such information will be sold off left and right to the highest bidder, but what purpose would that serve Wal-Mart? Such a fire sale would get out to the public, everyone would complain, and physicians would ultimately be forced to take their business elsewhere due to the outcry. And immediately, that brief profit made from selling the information is canceled out by the elimination of long-term revenue.
Wal-Mart doesn't care about you. Not like Washington wants you to think it does. The government's objective in encouraging digital health records is to ensure safety, made health care cheaper and to ultimately make you feel better (and be well enough to walk to the polls and vote in their favor...) Wal-Mart just sees a market and dollar signs flash before its eyes. But the government will drag its feet, try and please everybody, and in doing so, make a bloated behemoth of a program that will look hideous in comparison to Wal-Mart's sleek, profitable model.