Is Walmart on the right track with new healthcare pilot programs?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Oct 04, 2019

Walmart announced yesterday plans to launch several healthcare pilots around the U.S. beginning on Jan. 1. The programs being tested are designed to help the retailer cut healthcare costs for it and its employees while delivering better care in the process. Details of the test programs were laid out in a company blog post.

In Dallas/Fort Worth, Northwest Arkansas and Orlando/Tampa, the retailer will test Featured Providers, described as a program to connect patients with local doctors who have a track record of providing excellent care. The program from Embold Health collects large amounts of data from public and private insurance programs to create reports on individual doctors in eight different medical specialties: cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics, primary care and pulmonology. Walmart will use the data from the program to “curate” a group of healthcare providers best suited to meet the medical needs of the chain’s associates.

In North and South Carolina, Walmart will test the Personal Healthcare Assistant, a concierge program accessible via mobile app, phone and website, that enables employees to address a variety of needs, including finding appropriate physicians, scheduling appointments and billing. The program will also help workers with tasks such as finding childcare during appointment times and coordinating transportation.  

Walmart is expanding its telehealth program in Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin to include behavioral health, chronic care, preventive health and urgent care. The program enables patients to video chat with doctors. Associates can designate and access a personal online doctor, essentially a primary care physician, and a team of medical professionals to coordinate care, receive medical counseling and coordinate referrals and visits. Each video visit costs $4 and associates can book an appointment with a primary care physician within an hour. Behavioral health chats can be set up within a week.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Walmart is on the right track with its healthcare pilot programs? How likely is it that Walmart will find ways to improve care for associates while cutting costs at the same time?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"All I can say is great moves. Provides better care, lower cost, and give the employee a feeling that Walmart cares."
"From an employer side this may help with employee loyalty but also might reduce sick leave if issues can be dealt with fast."
"Walmart knows a thing or two about cutting costs, so that’s a pretty safe bet."

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8 Comments on "Is Walmart on the right track with new healthcare pilot programs?"


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Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Walmart knows a thing or two about cutting costs, so that’s a pretty safe bet. And the fact that the U.S. pays more per capita than any other country in healthcare costs, but doesn’t even rank in the top 10 in measured health metrics, suggests that there is plenty of room for improved health outcomes on reduced expenditures. Go Walmart!

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
2 years 10 months ago

The healthcare industry has a lot of inefficiencies. Anything that Walmart can do to make finding and receiving medical care easier and more efficient will be helpful to all involved. Finding a doctor is not typically the most difficult aspect, it is scheduling a visit in a timely manner. Some doctors book weeks or months out and that is not reasonable, IMHO.

Bethany Allee
Guest

How likely is it that Walmart, a massive innovator of the supply-chain, can do better than the Federal government at streamlining the process, making healthcare more cost-effective and affordable? Extremely likely. The retail trend that is working is to evolve your retail business into a critical community hub. What better way than making your retail business a medical hub? This is another gutsy, smart move from Walmart.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust
2 years 10 months ago

All I can say is great moves. Provides better care, lower cost, and give the employee a feeling that Walmart cares. I think that employees that have these benefits will be less likely to leave or will be asking other companies what they do to compare.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Not sure some of my colleagues above get the point that it’s a program for Walmart employees, not their customers. As such, good for them for trying new stuff, although I’m not sure how comfortable I would be having Walmart curating my choice of doctors (or directing the curation). There seems to be a possible disconnect between doctors with great reputations and less expensive medical care.

Cate Trotter
Guest

Healthcare is a big deal. There are a lot of benefits for Walmart in exploring getting a share of this space. From an employer side this may help with employee loyalty but also might reduce sick leave if issues can be dealt with fast. From a customer perspective it creates another reason to choose Walmart. There’s a lot of talk about aging populations and with that healthcare becomes a bigger and bigger element. Cementing a position in it could really pay off in the long run for Walmart.

Paco Underhill
Guest

Sam Walton in his autobiography talked about his mission to serve a single mother trying to provide for her kids. Good for Doug and Walmart to try and tackle the American healthcare problem. It makes complete sense. It builds both pharmacy sales and OTC. Remember much of healthcare is more nursing than doctor based. Start with employees and move to the general public. The next step is consumer banking – again targeting the median American family with a household incomes of $59,000. They deserve a better consumer banking deal than they are getting.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Exactly. Give us proof of new concept with employees AND show us how it’s scalable. There is so much room for improvement in the cost efficiency of good health care.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"All I can say is great moves. Provides better care, lower cost, and give the employee a feeling that Walmart cares."
"From an employer side this may help with employee loyalty but also might reduce sick leave if issues can be dealt with fast."
"Walmart knows a thing or two about cutting costs, so that’s a pretty safe bet."

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