Report: Walmart hopes to dominate U.S. primary care

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | November 09, 2011
Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, wants to be America's largest primary care provider, as more Americans will seek primary care when health reform policies take off over the next few years, according to a report published Wednesday by NPR and Kaiser Health News.

The organizations got a hold of a "request for information" put out by the Bentonville, Ark.-based company in late October, around the time it said it would cut health insurance benefits to part-time workers, in which Walmart said it wants to team up with vendors to offer services for prevention and care of patients chronically ill with diabetes, heart disease, HIV or other disorders.

"Walmart will use its retail and multi-channel footprint to offer the lowest cost primary health care services and products in the nation," the company said in the report, provided by NPR and KHN. "Services will include but not be limited to: clinical care, diagnostic services, preventative services and health and wellness products."

While it's not clear what steps Walmart plans to take, it's likely it could involve expanding its in-store walk-in clinics. The company has about 140 such clinics, according to research firm Merchant Medicine. There are 1,341 in the country, with the market now dominated by CVS Caremark's Minute Clinics (they have over 500 clinics).

Retail clinics are generally staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants (though sometimes doctors are on site). At Walmart, the clinics are independently owned and lease space at the stores.

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