Walmart Health Focuses on Patient Care

Walmart continues to try to leverage the success it has had managing health care for its 1.4 million U.S. employees into a larger role in the health care market. The company stated at the beginning of the year that it will continue to expand its health care services for customers and employees as long as it can compete effectively.

Walmart is also looking to compete with the CVS’ and Walgreens’ recent initiatives to offer health-care services inside its retail stores. Walmart has been operating The Clinic at Walmart at approximately 90 locations for a number of years.

The company’s new effort, Walmart Health, is an expansion of the clinics in response to CVS Health’s HealthHUB and Walgreens’ partnerships with health insurers and medical care providers to collaborate on in-store health services as well as medical care adjacent to the drugstore.

One area that Walmart has succeeded in is its establishment of Centers of Excellence to help employees by partnering with top specialists for certain serious medical conditions and procedures. Covered conditions include certain: heart surgeries, spine surgeries, hip and knee joint replacements, types of cancer, weight loss surgeries, organ and tissue transplants, and outpatient radiology.

Despite this success with its employees, health care’s share of Walmart’s U.S. sales has remained steady at about 11% for a number of years, despite additional initiatives such as opening in-store medical clinics and strengthening its relationships with health systems across the country by launching insurance products tied to value-based contracts with doctors and hospitals.

Walmart has also provided more than 2.5 million free health screenings over the past five years and tested improvements to the pharmacy area in select locations with bigger waiting areas and an automated kiosk for customers to pick up prescriptions at times when the pharmacy counter is closed.

Walmart has historically been aggressive with its pharmacy operations. Recently though, it has also emerged that Walmart is seeking to eliminate some jobs inside its U.S. pharmacy business to reduce costs and plot a new course in an evolving health-care landscape.

In the latest effort to leverage its internal employee healthcare success and take advantage of the 140 million people that visit its stores each week, Walmart plans to open its first stand-alone health clinic. The clinic, located in Georgia and called Walmart Health, will offer primary care and dental care, among a number of other services.

Walmart Health will be piloted in Dallas, Georgia, and located in a building next to Walmart’s retail store. Patients will be able to receive a variety of primary care services at the clinic, including immunizations, lab tests, dental care, optometry, audiology, and behavioral health services.

The drugstore as we have known it is rapidly changing from selling front-end products and dispensing drugs to offering value-add consumer services in primary care and wellness. Patient care has become the new focus of the leading drugstore operators and Walmart’s size and resources position the company well to remain a market leader.