Walmart Health – Bringing Convenience and Competition to the Health Care Marketplace


Walmart (WMT) has introduced health centers to meet their communities’ healthcare needs, create competition in the healthcare market, and increase foot traffic at its stores.

The initial center is adjacent to a Walmart supercenter in Dallas, Georgia. It offers annual checkups, lab work, x-rays, psychiatric counseling services, and dental and vision exams, among other benefits.

Live Better U

Walmart employees who wish to attend college may benefit from its Live Better U program, designed to make earning degrees without student loans more attainable. Through a partnership with Springboard Learning LLC, Walmart will cover tuition and book costs associated with hourly full-time and part-time associates enrolled in one of Walmart’s programs, such as data analytics, software development, or data-driven strategic thinking. This online learning provider has provided projects for Visa and HP, among others.

Live Better U isn’t your traditional scholarship; only Walmart employees are eligible to participate. Furthermore, any credits earned through Live Better U may transfer if or when they change jobs or leave the company.

Walmart is providing its 1.5 million U.S. associates access to seven health-related bachelor’s degrees and two career diplomas through their $1-a-day college tuition benefit program, Live Better U. These degrees will be provided in collaboration with six nonprofit universities that specialize in adult learners, such as University of Florida, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue University Global and Wilmington University.

Springboard degree programs offered through the company’s partnership are focused on equipping associates with skills that will make them more valuable to the company and advance in their careers. For example, the BS in Healthcare Administration will give associates all of the knowledge and abilities needed to manage healthcare organizations effectively; other programs focus on technology skills development within both the company itself as well as within broader IT industries; for instance, BS in Cybersecurity will equip associates with knowledge and tools necessary to defend against cybersecurity threats against employers.

Centers of Excellence

As one of the country’s largest employers, Walmart is always looking for healthcare innovations that could save money or provide its employees with better access to affordable healthcare services. Over recent years, Walmart has attempted various approaches to reduce employee medical costs and enhance outcomes – for instance, its Centers of Excellence program launched in 2013 covers travel and treatment expenses related to cancer evaluations, organ transplants, or common surgeries such as hip or knee replacements – however to qualify, employees must agree to visit one of the hospitals that partner with Walmart specifically designated hospitals that partner specifically with this purpose – one such strategy included this program.

In 2021, Walmart will introduce a radical initiative known as curated networks that allows enrollees to select doctors pre-vetted by Embold Health’s value-based screening system in three markets across the U.S. In this groundbreaking move aimed at helping reduce avoidable costs and enhance care experiences, Walmart hopes this radical initiative can reduce avoidable expenses while improving employee health experiences.

These networks will further the existing partnerships Walmart already enjoys with some of the country’s top hospitals and healthcare systems through its Centers of Excellence program, first introduced in 2013. Through this partnership, specialized treatments such as spine surgery, heart surgery, or cancer treatments at such institutions as Mayo Clinic or Geisinger Health are made available for associates enrolled in its self-funded medical plan who require specific procedures like spine or heart surgery and cancer treatments.

Walmart stands apart from most employer groups by emphasizing improving the quality of care enrollees receive rather than cost savings alone. According to them, quality, standard care can lower costs significantly while simultaneously producing positive results for employees.

Although a COE may not be replicable by SMBs, many lessons can still be taken from it to support employees’ healthcare needs better. For instance, retail giant Walmart has collaborated with multiple vendors to offer virtual physical therapy and gastrointestinal health counseling via telehealth services for employees; it has also partnered with Health at Scale — an artificial intelligence platform that matches employees with local providers who offer the most excellent chance of improving health outcomes based on an employee’s individual medical requirements and healthcare history.

Find a Doctor

Walmart believes its expansive retail footprint can be used to help people access healthcare. Already, it boasts pharmacies and optical departments in thousands of stores, as well as an expansive range of over-the-counter medications. Furthermore, some Walmart locations have operated health clinics offering primary care, dental, counseling, lab tests/x-rays/hearing tests/fitness/nutrition services/enrollment in health insurance plans.

Walmart will begin opening state-of-the-art medical offices inside select stores starting in 2022, targeting rural areas where access to primary care providers may be limited. They aim to offer convenient and cost-effective healthcare options for the uninsured or plans with high deductibles/out-of-pocket expenses.

These new clinics will be led by licensed doctors and nurses who can meet various healthcare needs, from physicals, immunizations, minor ailments, and chronic disease management to screenings for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, Walmart health centers feature labs, x-rays, and audiology capabilities.

Find a Doctor is an online tool developed by a machine intelligence software provider and an associate healthcare plan. It makes finding providers easier for employees enrolled in it. It considers health issues, preferences, and past provider experiences when matching potential matches based on health needs and provider experience. According to press releases issued by both entities, Find a Doctor will soon be made available as an associate benefit.

Walmart is among several retailers racing to establish primary care offerings as the demand for affordable care increases. CVS (CVS) and Walgreens already boast robust offerings in this space, such as clinics staffed with nurse practitioners and on-site dieticians; competition among providers should drive prices down further as more compete for business. Given its vast reach, however, it remains to be seen if Walmart can successfully connect with consumers in ways that extend beyond initial visits; retail clinics have often struggled to generate consistent and sustainable revenue beyond test fees collected at retail clinics in recent years.

Get Started

Walmart Health clinics at select supercenter locations provide affordable access to primary care, dental, behavioral health services, labs/x-rays/immunizations. In addition, telehealth visits through its partnership with Epic are also offered.

Clinics run similarly to typical primary care offices, with patients checking in and waiting until being seen for care. However, the company aims to use its retail expertise to offer an enhanced consumer experience; its mission is to make healthcare affordable for everyone who may otherwise go without.

According to one of its executives, Walmart’s healthcare initiative can fill an urgent need in underserved communities where there is little access to affordable medical care. “Walmart can spread the cost of an incremental primary care visit across an incredible scale that no primary care provider, minimal practices with only a handful of physicians, can.” Marcus Osborne, vice president of Walmart’s Health Transformation team, said this.

Osborne spoke at the HLTH Conference this week and outlined his company’s goal: making its customers feel their best. He detailed various initiatives taken by HLTH while acknowledging any challenges it might face.

Though facing obstacles, he was optimistic about Walmart Health’s early-stage development. This program represents an organic extension of Walmart’s retail business and existing network of stores; with name recognition and extensive reach behind it, growth should come quickly.

The retailer opened their inaugural clinic in 2019 and plans to open five more this year alone, including two in Orlando and three in Jacksonville and Tampa. Each clinic will integrate seamlessly into in-store and online offerings – such as Epic’s electronic medical records system – providing patients with quality healthcare solutions at their doorstep.

Walmart Health’s app gives those unable to visit stores access to board-certified physicians for non-emergency care whenever it’s convenient – at home or while on the move. Plus, this option works seamlessly with insurance plans.