Walmart Is Rapidly Expanding Its Presence In Healthcare

Retail giant Walmart is a force to reckon with, based not only on its expansive market reach, but also given its commitment to innovation in the consumer services space.

Walmart’s recent ventures in healthcare is one such example of innovation, as the company is attempting to become a staple in the multibillion dollar healthcare services industry.

In 2019, Walmart unveiled its first health center, offering a variety of “services including primary care, labs, X-ray and EKG, counseling, dental, optical, hearing, community health (nutritional services, fitness) and health insurance education and enrollment all in one facility, conveniently located outside the store with a separate entrance for customers. The clinic will provide low, transparent pricing for key health services for local families, regardless of insurance status.” Since then, the company has continued to expand the service across multiple locations, with the goal of “partnering with several on-the-ground health providers to be a first-of-its-kind health center to deliver primary and urgent care, labs, x-ray and diagnostics, counseling, dental, optical and hearing services all in one facility.”

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One of the most important aspects to consider with this initiative is Walmart’s significant market penetration with its stores. As of April 2021, the company boasts more than 5000+ stores in the United States alone, and almost 5000 more worldwide. If Walmart is able to expand its healthcare offerings to even just 25% of its stores, it could significantly change the face of primary care in hundreds of communities.

Furthermore, if brick-and-mortar offerings weren’t sufficient, Walmart announced in May that it would be acquiring telehealth provider MeMD, highlighting the company’s bold commitment to enter the rapidly growing telemedicine market. According to the official statement, the initiative will “allow Walmart Health to provide access to virtual care across the nation including urgent, behavioral and primary care, complementing our in-person Walmart Health centers.”

As explained by Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Executive Vice President of Health & Wellness at Walmart, “Telehealth offers a great opportunity to expand access and reach consumers where they are and complements our brick-and-mortar Walmart Health locations. Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions.” There is also recent speculation that the retail giant is planning to expand this service to even more states.

Indeed, given the potentially massive reach that telehealth can offer, this service line by Walmart could one day reach millions of people.

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Furthermore, in addition to its health services initiatives, the company is striving to provide end-to-end care for patients. For many years, physicians referred patients to Walmart’s famed “$4 Prescription List,” which gave patients an opportunity to purchase generic prescription medications at an affordable price. Programs such as these are of critical importance at a time when medication prices and healthcare costs for consumers continue to rise.

Last month, Walmart took yet another revolutionary step in the pharmaceutical space when it announced “the launch of the first-ever private brand analog insulin, which will revolutionize the access and affordability to diabetes care by offering customers a significant price savings without compromising quality.” Rising prices of insulin treatment has been a long-discussed topic in mainstream media for years, and Walmart is attempting to provide respite; as detailed on the company’s website: “Available exclusively through Walmart’s private ReliOn brand, the new offering includes analog insulin vials ($72.88) and FlexPen ($85.88). These products will save customers between 58% to 75% off the cash price of branded analog insulin products, which translates to a savings of up to $101 per branded vial or $251 per package of branded FlexPens.”

Dr. Cheryl Pegus explains: “We know many people with diabetes struggle to manage the financial burden of this condition, and we are focused on helping by providing affordable solutions. We also know this is a condition that disproportionately impacts underserved populations. With ReliOn NovoLog insulin, we’re adding a high-quality medication for diabetes to the already affordable ReliOn line of products and continuing our commitment to improve access and lowering cost of care.”

Indeed, this may become a revolutionary initiative.

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Without a doubt, the healthcare system is ripe for innovation and disruption. Walmart’s access to numerous resources, well-established market reach, name recognition, and retail-industry expertise will potentially make the company a formidable force in the healthcare industry for generations to come.

The content of this article is not implied to be and should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by any means, and is not written or intended as such. This content is for information and news purposes only. Consult with a trained medical professional for medical advice.

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