At first sight, retail giant Walmart appears an unlikely candidate to disrupt US healthcare, but the opening last September of its first health center, in Dallas, Georgia, signals a possible new direction for the business.

Matt Parry, head/customer experience and strategy for health and wellness at Walmart, addressed this topic at the recent CES 2020 event in Las Vegas.

Walmart already has a presence in healthcare, delivering 420 million prescriptions a year, as well as operating numerous vision centers, and clinics in South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas that supply primary care, manage on-going conditions, hold physicals, and conduct lab tests.

Parry reported that Walmart’s steps into the health-and-wellness category are premised on the same guiding principles that have long determined its approach in the retail industry.

“Walmart’s mission is to help people save money so they can live better,” he stated. “And, as we look at and talk to our customers, healthcare has just come up as a real need.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: How consumer insights are helping Walmart disrupt the healthcare industry.)

“So, we’re looking to innovate in this space and see how we can use the Walmart brand, our footprint, [and] our capabilities to help people get greater access to affordable healthcare,” he explained.

In line with this objective, customers at its health clinic do not need insurance coverage and are informed upfront of the costs they will pay – with the price of an office visit averaging $40, an annual check-up $30, a flu test $20, and 45-minute individual counseling sessions $45.

Should Walmart’s healthcare model succeed in Georgia, the retailer will develop a new line of business and also benefit its brick-and-mortar stores.

“It’s a standalone business, but at the same time … this is part of the [Walmart] ecosystem,” Parry said.

“We have 150 million shoppers who are coming in [to stores]. This is a convenient opportunity for them to combine a trip to pick up groceries, get their healthcare, get some glasses, whatever,” he added.

“So, there is obviously a big ecosystem play in terms of making customers’ lives easier and saving them money.”

Sourced from WARC