When Walmart enters into the $3.5 trillion healthcare space, it’s time to take notice. That’s exactly what has just happened, with the opening of their first health center in Dallas, Georgia. If the pilot of Walmart’s new health center goes well, they plan to open up others throughout Georgia, making them the largest healthcare provider in the region. As under served communities look to provide affordable health services to rural and low-income residents, Walmart’s new healthcare model could serve to completely disrupt how patients receive care.
Here are the top three ways that Walmart’s entry into the health and wellness industry could change how patients approach their health:
Megaretailers like Walmart are known for always offering extremely low prices, well below comparable competitors. As a result, with their entry into the healthcare space, they are likely to capture a large portion of the market because of their reputation for affordability. Additionally, the majority of Walmart’s weekly shoppers are low-income and elderly and likely have Medicare or Medicaid,1 meaning that Walmart Health will be catering to an audience that is more than likely familiar with the brand. If medical care can be provided at a lower cost to patients by a large company they already know and trust, local health and wellness companies may be unable to compete.
It’s no secret that today’s consumers want to have everything they need at their fingertips. Therefore, the new Walmart Health center may have a competitive advantage, as it offers a large variety of health services under the same roof. Consumers are able to receive dental care, optometrist care, counseling care and more – all within the same facility.2 This means that ideally, it would be possible to schedule back-to-back appointments for different health issues, all within the same day and within the same building. For those leading a busy lifestyle, this will undoubtedly give Walmart an advantage over its competition.
Greater technology innovation
Implementing new technology to improve health outcomes can be cost-prohibitive to even large health and wellness companies. However, as a $290 billion dollar company3 with a global footprint, Walmart could easily add new health clinics to every one of their 11,300 retail locations, putting them in nearly every major city.4 In addition, with their financial position, Walmart can equip their health clinics with the most cutting-edge health technology to serve patients faster and provide better health outcomes.
The success of Walmart’s Dallas, Georgia clinic is yet to be seen, but should be closely watched. If the megaretailer has its way, this would be the first of many clinics and similar health-related endeavors they pursue in 2020 and beyond. As other retail giants like Amazon push into the healthcare space, now is the time for health and wellness providers to look for ways to improve their patient care and offer more affordable healthcare services.