Wal-Mart plans its own in-store clinics

Marking a major departure from its existing pattern, Wal-Mart has set plans to open its first-in-store medical clinics under its own name. The retailer will open "The Clinic at Wal-Mart" in April as a joint venture with several local hospital systems, including partners in Atlanta, Dallas and Little Rock, AR. This is part of a larger strategy in which Wal-Mart is shifting its allegiance to retail clinic deals with local healthcare providers. The retailer's execs have said that they feel such relationships will build trust among local shoppers.

In addition to the Wal-Mart-branded deals with local hospital systems, Wal-Mart also announced plans to open a total of 200 co-branded walk-in clinics in partnership with local hospital systems and RediClinic. Wal-Mart also plans to partner with St. Vincent Health System, a part of the Catholic Healthcare Initiatives system, under which it will open four co-branded clinics in Little Rock.

Right now, Wal-Mart has clinics in 77 of its stores, including nine in Wisconsin and Florida which are already operated by local hospitals. However, 23 of those clinics shut down last month when clinic operator CheckUps got into trouble, a bit of a blow given that this represented about a third of its existing clinics. Nonetheless, Wal-Mart is steaming ahead with its plans to open a total of 400 co-branded clinics by 2010.

To learn more about Wal-Mart's plans:
- read this Associated Press item

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