The retailer is adding 28 new locations in Texas, Arizona and Missouri. It comes as other retailers are getting into healthcare delivery.
Walmart is planning a major expansion of its health clinics, and the company is showing once again that it is all in on healthcare.
The retail giant said Thursday it is planning to open 28 new Walmart Health Centers next year, and expects to operate more than 75 locations around the country by the end of 2024. Walmart makes its move as Amazon, CVS, and Walgreens have all made moves into primary care.
With those steps, Walmart will open health clinics in two new states - Arizona and Missouri - while expanding its presence in Texas. Walmart currently operates health clinics in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Arkansas.
Next year, Walmart plans to open 10 locations in the Dallas, Texas metropolitan area; 8 health centers in the Houston, Texas market; 6 locations in and around Phoenix, Arizona; and 4 new clinics in the Kansas City, Missouri area.
David Carmouche, Walmart’s senior vice president of omnichannel care, said in a blog post outlining the expansion that the company is moving ambitiously but carefully.
“As we have from the beginning, we will continue to grow and adapt at a responsible pace to better serve the communities where we live and work,” Carmouche wrote. “With these new locations, we will bring to life some of the feedback we’ve heard from listening to our patients.”
The new facilities will be about 5,750 square feet and located beside Walmart Supercenters.
In addition to opening new markets, the health centers are getting a new look, Carmouche said. The layout is being modified so patients spend less time in the waiting room and more time with their doctors, he said.
Walmart is also integrating Epic’s electronic health record system across all of its Walmart Health locations.
While Walmart is offering primary care services, its Walmart Health clinics provide other healthcare services as well. While services vary by location, some clinics offer labs, X-rays, behavioral health, dental services and telehealth.
Other retailers are moving more aggressively into primary care.
Last month, Amazon completed its $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, an organization which offers primary care and virtual care. Patients pay a membership fee allowing them access to in-person care and 24/7 access to telehealth services. For a limited time, Amazon said One Medical’s annual memberships would be offered for $144, down from the regular price of $199 annually. Amazon’s home page now features a prominent link to One Medical.
CVS Health announced in February that it is buying Oak Street Health in a $10.6 billion deal. Last September, CVS said it was purchasing Signify Health, with a network of doctors delivering care to patients at home, in an $8 billion transaction. VillageMD, backed by Walgreens Boots Alliance, purchased Summit Health-CityMD in a $8.9 billion deal in October.
Some healthcare industry analysts say they expect these retailers to serve as viable competitors in primary care, partly because they can offer additional convenience and are accessible to some consumers. During a panel at the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit last summer, hospital leaders acknowledged they would have to focus more on the consumer experience.
Walmart is touting its proximity to patients, with 90% of the U.S. population living within 10 miles of a Walmart supercenter.
“Our patients come to us to receive high quality care that works for their schedule – and within their budget,” Carmouche wrote. “And we hear from our providers that they enjoy the team-based approach to care that values all clinicians and enables them to practice at the very top of their license.”
Hal Andrews, the CEO of Trilliant Health, a healthcare analytics company based in Nashville, Tenn., said retailers see an enormous market for healthcare. In a recent interview with Chief Healthcare Executive®, Andrews said retailers like Walmart are likely banking on customers buying other items as they come in for primary care appointments.
Walmart is well situated to capitalize on those customers and succeed with its health centers, Andrews said.
“It's easy to see how Walmart could really become a key player in primary care in rural areas,” Andrews said. “And I think in a lot of ways, they're the only people who have scale to do it. So I'm hopeful that Walmart will continue to do that, because I think the rural communities too often are overlooked in terms of national healthcare policy.”
In addition to Walmart’s scale, the retailer excels at collecting data on its customers, he said. With Walmart’s first clinics in Georgia and Florida, the retailer found that those getting primary care services were more likely to buy toys than other shoppers.
“Walmart can spread that cost of the next incremental primary care visit across an amazing scale that no primary care provider can, and certainly not small primary care offices, one or two or three physician groups,” Andrews said.
Walmart has formed a 10-year partnership with UnitedHealth Group to serve Medicare beneficiaries in value-based arrangements through Medicare Advantage plans at some of its clinics. Walmart said it expects to expand those services in other areas over time.
(See part of our interview with Hal Andrews of Trilliant Health on why Walmart could succeed with its health centers.)