After several years of speculation as to whether or not Walmart will enter the healthcare industry, Walmart is making its long awaited debut as a primary care provider. The retail giant opened six primary care clinics across South Carolina and Texas, with plans to launch six more by the end of the year. In a partnership with QuadMed, the clinics will be staffed by nurse practitioners.
However, those carefully following Walmart know that the company currently has more than 100 retail clinic across its a stores, a strategy that has been in the works for many years. So how are these new clinics different?
Unlike the retail clinics, which Walmart hosts through leases with local area hospitals, these new clinics are fully owned and operated by Walmart and branded explicitly as a one-stop shop for primary care. Additionally, these new clinics will be open 12 hours per day during the week and another 8 or more hours on the weekend, which is long and later than most competitors.
Walmart’s move comes at a prime time to capture consumers as many Americans are getting insurance coverage through Obamacare, and seeking quality, affordable, and convenient healthcare options. Walmart stresses their clinics will be a lost-cost alternative to traditional options, with walk-in visits costing $40.
“While we believe it’s important that our healthcare system provides access to all people who are looking for it, we are worried that some players who have been successful in other businesses may not necessarily understand what it takes when it comes to providing excellent and high quality healthcare,” says Alison Hare,practice manager of Doctors Express Urgent Care. “We strongly believe that the urgent care sector will continue to grow due to the ease and convenience of access to patient care however sometimes we see these business entities enter the medical field and fail because taking care of patients is much more than a good business model.”
The emerging trend retail healthcare has seen a surge in urgent care facilities and clinics in order to meet the growing demand for affordable and convenient healthcare. Now, more than ever, consumers have greater control and a number of options to meet their healthcare needs.