Even as Walmart cuts pharmacy staff, it is expanding into new types of healthcare services.
Walmart is testing a free-standing health clinic concept, called Walmart Health, which offers low-cost primary care, mental health counseling, dental care, lab tests, immunizations, x-rays, audiology, and other services.
The cost per visit is between $59 and $99 for patients without insurance; Walmart Health also accepts several major insurance plans.
Walmart is testing the concept with an initial clinic in Dallas, GA, and could open more in the future, people familiar with the concept told CNBC. The Dallas clinic is in a separate building next door to a Walmart store.
Morgan Stanley analysts said that the health clinics are likely to drive traffic to Walmart’s stores and could be the start of a major shift in the healthcare marketplace, Barron’s reported. “Might Walmart disrupt healthcare the same way it disrupted retail? It seems possible, but only time will tell,” writes Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman.
Walmart’s move into health clinics could be its response to CVS Health and other drug store chains and indepedent that continue to add additional healthcare services beyond pharmacy.
CVS Health said earlier this year that it will expand its HealthHUBs to 1,500 locations by the end of 2021. Three pilot HealthHUBs were opened in Houston, TX, earlier this year. The HealthHUB stores offer personalized pharmacy support programs and expanded MinuteClinic services, as well as one-on-one and group counseling on topics such as nutrition and weight loss. HealthHUBs have a care concierge in each location - a person responsible for customer engagement, including educating customers about service offerings, helping them navigate in-store services and events, and connecting them to in-store healthcare providers. They will also have community spaces for group events such as health or yoga classes.
In addition, when Walmart announced it would lay off around 3% of its pharmacy staff earlier this year, the retailer hinted that it would be changing how it handles pharmacy and healthcare services.
“We are on a transformational journey on how we operate our pharmacies and serve our customers, investing in key growth areas to develop our business and associates. We are aligning our staffing with the demands of the business to consistently serve our customers now and in the future,” Walmart says in a statement provided to Drug Topics.