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Walmart does what Walmart does

Walmart opens new Urgent Care Facility

As I have written in a previous blog, Walmart entered the urgent care market earlier this year with locations in Dallas, Georgia, and Calhoun, Georgia. The concept, called 'Walmart Health,' is the next iteration of their previous limited model called 'Walmart Care.' Located within the Walmart store, Walmart Health offers the traditional benefits provided at a primary care provider coupled with the added services of x-ray, EKG, counseling, dental, optical, hearing, and community health services. Additionally, Walmart has retail pharmacies and vision centers located in both Walmart stores.

Based on the success of the first two healthcare centers, Walmart announced the opening of two new Walmart Healths this week. The third facility, located in Loganville, Georgia, opened on June 17, 2020, follows the same template as the first two facilities. The newest facility, located in Springdale, Arkansas, is the first outside of Georgia and will have a smaller footprint and new patient flow. Critically, both new facilities will also continue the practice of upfront pricing. Patients will receive an estimated cost of services, regardless of their insurance status, when booking their appointment. Upfront pricing has been one of the highlights of the consumer experience in the first two facilities.

  • "I had no idea healthcare could be so affordable!" *
  • "They said it would cost $40, and it was $40. That was such a relief." *
  • "I like the convenience of getting all my care in one visit, so I only have to miss work one time." *

With 90% of the United States population living within 10 miles of a Walmart store, the Walmart Health business model is here to stay. Even with these facilities' success, Walmart is continuing to take steps to improve their patient's experience. Walmart announced last week, the purchase of CareZone, a prescription management technology. This acquisition will give the retail giant a tool to compete with CVS's Caremark and Amazon's PillPack.

"CareZone has developed a mobile app that helps individuals and families manage medicine and chronic illness for each member of the household. Families can use the app to scan labels or insurance cards to speed and simplify the process." **

As Walmart continues to invest in the healthcare marketplace, the impact of Walmart Health on the suburban/rural communities they serve during the Coronavirus pandemic has been impactful. With many individuals searching for testing facilities, Walmart has been front and center offering tests. Furthermore, the facilities have remained open for patients who needed or requested services not available through telemedicine. For those that are more comfortable social distancing, Walmart's Doctor on Demand offers telemedicine services 24/ 7.

As Walmart continues to elevate its offerings in the healthcare sector of these small, mostly suburban/rural markets, it won't be long until they start moving into more populous communities. With over 4700 existing stores in the United States, Walmart can reinvest in their stores and open Walmart Healths in many of its facilities.

So when Walmart enters into your marketplace, what can your facility do to maintain their advantage?

One of the primary factors in a patient's selection of urgent care facility is convenience. Today's patients want to be treated for non-emergency conditions promptly and within one visit. To ensure a facility meets these two critical conditions, an urgent care facility needs to utilize technology efficiently and be stocked with equipment to make a fast, accurate diagnosis. Being able to communicate with and access the patient's primary care providers' medical records is becoming more critical as patients visit multiple healthcare facilities. Gone are the days where the patients may receive a CD or film copies of an x-ray. Modern technologies exist that allow facilities using different record-keeping software to communicate seamlessly. Similarly, to be competitive, the urgent care facility must use modern equipment using digital technologies. The use of these modern equipment increases the rapidity and accuracy of a diagnosis.

To put it simply, if your medical facility wants to compete with Walmart in the future, it needs to pay attention to the things that matter most to healthcare consumers. As urgent care facilities continue to pull more patients from traditional medical facilities and primary care physicians, it is becoming essential to invest in good solutions for the patient. Good for the patient means good for the business and good for healthcare.