Walmart has recently launched half a dozen primary care clinics across South Carolina and Texas, with plans to open six more before January.
Staffed by nurse practitioners, in a partnership with QuadMed, these clinics are fully owned by the company and branded explicitly as one-stop shops for primary care.
Prior to this, Walmart’s 100-plus retail clinics were hosted through leases with local hospitals.
With a walk-in visit price of a mere $40 (and $4 if you are a Walmart employee), Walmart’s goal for these clinics are to be a low-cost alternative to traditional options. Additionally, the clinics will also stand out from competitors as they will be open for 12 hour days on the week and 8 hours (per day) on the weekend.
The roll out of clinics is beginning in rural areas, where doctors are scarce. When comparing the number of hospitals in urban versus rural areas, Definitive Healthcare's hospital database's search accounts for 2,228 hospitals located in rural areas, but 3,871 hospitals located in an urban geographic location.
Previously, Walmart only offered what are known as “convenient-care-clinics” or “retail clinics,” which treat uncomplicated minor illnesses and provide preventative health care services. Besides Walmart, CVS offers their Minute Clinic through this model, as well as Target’s Target Clinic. With their new clinics, Walmart will be able to support a broader range of services such as chronic disease management.
The New York Times examines this news on Walmart, by also comparing their model to Walgreens. In 2013 Walgreens also began offering primary care services in their 400 clinics across the country. They were the first-ever chain retailer to become a direct provider of primary care services. Walgreens, however, differs in that they are still reluctant to call their facilities primary care clinics, while Walmart put that label front and center.
Additionally, Walgreens differs because also last year, they became a first mover when they began partnerships with ACOs. Their partnership with three providers, Advocare Walgreens Well Network (New Jersey), Diagnostic Clinic Walgreens Well Network (Florida), and Scott & White Healthcare Walgreens Well Network (Texas), was aimed at participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). This was the first retailer/provider partnership that will try and improve care and reduce costs of Medicare.
Definitive Healthcare’s healthcare database, tracks intelligence on 600+ accountable care organizations (ACOs), including those affiliated with Walgreens. In addition to the three MSSP ACOs, Walgreen is also in collaboration with four other ACOs, such as Centura ACO Health of Colorado. Definitive Healthcare’s database provides intelligence on 34 members of that ACO, as well as tracks their technology modules of HIE and EHR/EMR.
Instead of replacing one’s primary care physician, as what is intended with Walmart’s goal, Walgreens instead stresses that their collaboration will provide a comprehensive experience for the consumer. They still want the majority of care coming from the patient’s physician group or health system, but Walgreens would just add distinct value to the ambulatory network, etc.
While it still is a bit too early to tell, The Advisory Board Company has already written on how the Walgreens’ ACO partnership is on the right track.
As Walmart continues to roll out these physician centers, it will be interesting to track the success of these new clinics.
Walmart’s clinics will accept Medicare, but currently does not accept third-party insurance. The timing of these new clinics could benefit greatly from the changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act.