Would you go to Walmart to see a doctor?

Photo: Walmart
Sep 06, 2019

Walmart this month is opening a health clinic called Walmart Health in Georgia that will provide comprehensive and low-cost primary care. Services also include dental, hearing tests, counseling sessions, vision and hearing tests, and x-rays. 

Walmart is opening the clinic in a separate building next to its store in Dallas, GA to provide an extra level of privacy for patients.

The store’s microsite, walmarthealth.com, asks visitors, “What type of appointment would you like to schedule?” and offers six pull-down menus: Medical, Immunizations, Dental, Optometry, Audiology and Behavioral.

In Walmart fashion, medical services appear inexpensive. Prices on walmarthealth.com (without insurance) are listed as $30 for a physical, $50 for a dental exam, $45 for an eye exam, $27.96 for a flu immunization and $60.00 for a 60-minute therapy consultation with a new patient.

Sean Slovenski, who Walmart recruited from Humana, is leading the clinic efforts.

“Walmart is committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve,” the company said in a statement.

In reporting on the development, some suspect Walmart is looking to capture business from the uninsured. Others see Walmart seeking bigger opportunities beyond the low-margin pharmacy business. Walmart’s health and wellness revenues — including pharmacy, clinical and optical — have stalled as a percent of sales over the last four years despite opening a number of walk-in clinics. 

Walmart has established urgent care centers, called Walmart Care Clinics, inside stores in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. A deeper move into clinics would follow the trend away from inpatient to outpatient care as well as the greater availability of digital-healthcare options.

In addition to drug store chains and a possible entry into health care by Amazon.com, Walmart faces newer competitors “ranging from large health systems to emerging businesses like One Medical, Circle Medical and Forward,” according to CNBC.

To Walmart’s advantage, the company could support the health needs of its 1.5 million U.S. employees and the 140 million visiting its stores every week. The retailer could also play the hero in solving the crisis over rising health-care costs that will be a hot-button issue in the 2020 election. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How far should/will Walmart venture into healthcare services? How do you stack up the pros and cons of Walmart’s move into offering primary care, dental and other advanced medical services?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"I would actually be more likely to visit a Walmart clinic than one of the many other 'doc-in-a-box' outlets that have been popping up."
"Brilliant. Building excellent and needed services for everyone’s needs in-store demonstrates Walmart’s desire to be more than a store."
"This is another (great) example of our industry stepping in to fill needs when the existing systems are not serving the needs of our society."

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21 Comments on "Would you go to Walmart to see a doctor?"

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Mark Ryski

I continue to be surprised and delighted by the moves Walmart is making – this is another one. Given the healthcare crisis in America, offering low-cost and highly accessible medical services is not only good for society, but also good for business. I expect that this will be a very successful venture for Walmart, and play a meaningful role in helping deliver medical services to people who might otherwise be unable to acquire them. Well done Walmart – again.

Art Suriano

Providing this level of healthcare is a smart move for Walmart. Millions of Americans still do not have health insurance, and any visit to a doctor can be expensive. As a result, many Americans choose not to go to the doctor simply because they can’t afford it. That said, Walmart will succeed if the program is done well and, most importantly, the people employed have excellent patient care skills and healing ability. Customers will return only if they are happy with the service. I see Walmart possibly having difficulty finding those willing to work in a Walmart store or an urgent care facility connected to the store when they’ll most likely have better opportunities for higher pay in the traditional medical field. If Walmart can find talented individuals and the numbers work for employer, employee, and customer, I see this being a huge success.

Neil Saunders

Walmart’s entry into healthcare is to be welcomed, mostly because greater competition and accessibility is desperately needed in the sector. One of the challenges facing Walmart is being seen as a credible player in the segment, something that is not always easy given the company’s traditional retail positioning. However, the quality of some of Walmart’s clinics and its in-store services like optometry are good; the spaces are well-designed and feel high quality and deliver excellent levels of service.

Dick Seesel

If the new Walmart clinic is staffed by doctors, not just physicians’ assistants or RNs, then it’s a step beyond the urgent care clinics sprouting up around the country — including in its own stores, inside Walgreens, and elsewhere. It not only offers primary care for the uninsured, but it also allows Walmart to serve its own army of employees in a more cost-controlled way. It’s a good idea, as long as Walmart can guarantee “quality control” and can refer patients who need more critical care.

Rich Kizer

Brilliant. Building excellent and needed services for everyone’s needs in-store demonstrates Walmart’s desire to be more than a store. This certainly impacts and improves their positioning in the customer’s minds. These types of strategic moves demonstrate that the company is truly focused on the community.

Michael La Kier

This is a shrewd move for Walmart to deepen loyalty with its core shopper. As we’ve discussed recently, loyalty is not just about price discounts and purchases, but also offering goods and services that matter most. With the health care crisis in this country, many will be more likely to turn to a company like Walmart which they already trust.

Dave Wendland

Walmart has certainly recognized that providing access to affordable healthcare services is vital to their customer base. I applaud this move by Walmart and anticipate health and wellness-focused alignment across their entire enterprise.

From the work our firm has done with the Global Market Development Center (GMDC) and their innovative look at selfcare, I feel that Walmart’s latest move squarely intersects with what shoppers are expecting and demanding as the consumerism of healthcare evolves.

Jeff Weidauer

I would actually be more likely to visit a Walmart clinic than one of the many other “doc-in-a-box” outlets that have been popping up. Walmart’s involvement makes me feel better about the likelihood that the providers are legit and have been vetted. I don’t get that sames sense from other places – who knows what, if any, background review has been conducted?

And there is no question that this is a great move for Walmart. Given the company’s footprint in rural areas, it makes tremendous sense.

Gene Detroyer

“Win-win” is a too often used description. But this fits. Assuming, and I think it is proper to assume, that it will provide quality care and personnel, I see no downsides.

From a business point of view, it is good for Walmart and their relationship with their customers. It is especially good for customers’ access to healthcare. Imagine employees who don’t have to lose much work time for doctors appointments. I could go on. I just plain like this.

Cathy Hotka

What’s not to like? Many Walmarts already have eyeglass clinics, hair salons and other outlets; why not primary care? This is only the latest in a series of great moves by Walmart. Nicely done.

Ed Rosenbaum

This is a good business decision for Walmart. I am surprised it has taken so long for them to enter the field. The pricing is reasonable other than the flu immunization listed above at $27.96 when Publix is free (plus they give you a $10 gift card).

Jeff Sward

Sure, why not? Convenience, speed, and value are the touchstones for what a customer expects from services and retailers these days. Now that I get my flu shot at the pharmacy at the grocery store, I’m open to their approaches. Why not a medical clinic at the mall? Lots of Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s stores are available for remodeling.

Paco Underhill

YES. Remember that Sam Walton talked about supporting a single mother trying to raise her children. Healthcare reform is only going to happen through competition. Now if we can only get Walmart and CVS to rethink about offering banking services too.

Shep Hyken

There is no doubt that this service from Walmart would serve a part of the community that would welcome an easy-access, lower-cost alternative to the basic medical, dental and eye services listed in the article. As Walmart expands into other “retail” opportunities, this could make good sense. They already have the pharmacy. They want more consumers to think of Walmart as part of their lifestyle, not just a store.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

This is another (great) example of our industry stepping in to fill needs when the existing systems are not serving the needs of our society. Approachable healthcare, stopping the sale of harmful products – like cigarettes at CVS and guns at Dick’s, and potentially dangerous behavior in stores – banning customers from bringing assault rifles into stores.

Harley Feldman

Walmart is making a smart move into health care. Their list of services are all low cost and low risk. With volume, they will be profitable. The pros are Walmart has a customer base that walks in the door everyday, and this is just a new service for those customers. Also, the services low cost will appeal to those without insurance and those will pay to have the convenience even if they have insurance. It is also a convenient location for Walmart employees to be treated. There are no cons for Walmart other than being able to manage the healthcare business so it is profitable.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

A continued “bravo!” to Walmart for expanding its role in primary care and reinventing an accessible model for health care for mainstream people beyond the concierge models of One Medical. In just the past few weeks, Walmart has made visible its growing footprint in health beyond “care” by banning certain lethal weapons and ammo along with carrying guns in stores, by adding mental/behavioral health to the primary care clinic offering, expanding the ecommerce site at Walmart.com, and even adding pollinating garden centers in some stores to enhance its sustainability and green efforts – and enabling consumers to grow fresh food. I talked about this growing health footprint in my blog yesterday.

Craig Sundstrom

Well, Tom seems a fan. Before we ready a hero’s cape, though, I think we should step back and ask, if (insert random business name here) wanted to move into health care, what kinds of questions would we ask? We’d be concerned about conflict of interest; we’d want to know what kinds of doctors they’d hire and facilities they’d provide. Nothing here, I think, disfavors Walmart specifically, other than the obvious that they don’t have any experience in the field, so I don’t see a reason to object (at least as regards primary care. The unwieldy nature of a typical WM would be ill-suited for emergency care). But if we look at the number of care providers that exist in the trade area a typical WM serves, i.e. there are a lot more than the handful that will be installed at WM, I’m not sure how much of an impact this will make.

Tony Orlando
Lots of retailers are trying to get in on this, and Walmart has the capital to provide basic services. Getting any successful doctor to work in these clinics will be very difficult. Are they going to get a guaranteed income, like at hospital at the very least? Perhaps using ex-military doctors, who are trying to get back into the private practice and may need a start back in their hometown, or recently retired family practice doctors that might work part time. Even more questions. Is Walmart willing to invest huge sums of money for qualified professionals including nurses, staff, and IT folks who must maintain proper records? Will they accept Medicaid? That’s gonna come up for sure, and turning folks away who can’t pay will not go over well with the loyal shoppers who will try to use the clinics for their medical needs. This is not a slam dunk, and it has to be done by the book, as the AMA will make sure their doctors are treated properly, and given the tools they… Read more »
Lantz Starratt

Only 29% of the average American populace has emergency savings and with a number like that there continues to be a large number of people who face uncertainty when it comes to healthcare. Walmart moving into healthcare is a great business move and I would absolutely see a Walmart doctor. At competitive prices like that, they are guaranteeing themselves major profits.

I think most people would agree that in everyday health, the deciding factor of where we go to receive services is based off of price or coverage. Once it goes from everyday services like physicals and eye exams to a more serious issue, the cost quickly becomes irrelevant. People want to see the best of the best. With that being said, Walmart as just a provider of non-emergency medicine seems like a really great move for them in a time where price and speed are king.

jeff greer
3 years 2 months ago

At some point Walmart will be one of the largest healthcare providers in the country. Take a look at a map — they are located in virtually all of the rural areas where hospitals are disappearing. This is a fantastic move for them and the country (and a move I have been waiting for them to make since I first learned they hired a Chief Medical Officer). Bringing their customer focus discipline and buying power to the healthcare market will truly be a disruptive force for good.

"I would actually be more likely to visit a Walmart clinic than one of the many other 'doc-in-a-box' outlets that have been popping up."
"Brilliant. Building excellent and needed services for everyone’s needs in-store demonstrates Walmart’s desire to be more than a store."
"This is another (great) example of our industry stepping in to fill needs when the existing systems are not serving the needs of our society."

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