An inside look at Walmart's new health clinic

LAS VEGAS—A typical Walmart store offers customers a little bit of everything.

Now, the retail giant is bringing that one-stop-shop approach to healthcare. 

Walmart Health launched its first clinic earlier this fall in Dallas, Georgia, and the facility—which is attached to a retail store but offers its own entrance—provides patients with primary care, dental care, vision care and psychiatric counseling alongside health education and wellness programs. 

Marcus Osborne, Walmart’s vice president of health transformation, said in a presentation at the HLTH conference Tuesday afternoon that the company wanted to use its retail know-how to design a more integrated and consumer-friendly health experience. 

By offering a diverse set of services in one location, patients have the opportunity to easily access what they need at the time they need it, he said. 

“I can tell you we’ve not even gotten close to figuring it all out,” he said. “But we’re doing work that’s leading us on a journey to create a solution we hope will get us there.” 

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Services at the health clinic cost a flat fee, even for the uninsured: $40 for a primary care visit, $50 for an adult to get a dental checkup and cleaning, $45 for a visit for an eye appointment and $1 per minute to see the therapist. Laboratory services and imaging for both primary and dental care are available on-site.

The clinic is staffed by a variety of health professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists and behavioral health providers. On-site care navigators and community health workers are also available to assist.

A customer can bundle services, too, and take care of several needs during the same visit. 

For example, Osborne said, a patient that comes in to see the primary care providers might be diagnosed with diabetes. That patient can then be connected with on-site nutrition and fitness classes to assist with their care management. 

And, because the clinic is attached to the Walmart store, the nutritionist can take the patient through the grocery department and assist them in finding the foods they need to manage their diet. The on-site health insurance educators can also flag for that patient that their plan includes a stipend that can be used monthly for food, helping them cover the cost of a healthy meal, Osborne said. 

“When you give consumers options,” he said, “they will engage more.” 

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The clinics are one of Walmart’s latest forays into healthcare, though the retail chain has announced several other initiatives in the space. Earlier this month, Walmart unveiled a slate of new benefit changes for its associates that aim to steer workers toward high-quality employers and ease the process of navigating the health system. 

In addition, Walmart announced in September that it would allow its employees to work toward one of seven bachelor’s degrees or two career diplomas in health fields for $1 per day as part of its Live Better U program

CVS Health has taken a similar approach to the retail clinic with its HealthHUB model, in which it dedicates 20% of its store to health services. It debuted the clinics in the Houston area but plans to convert 1,500 stores to HealthHUBs over the next two years. 

Though Walmart is starting with the Georgia clinic for now, the goal is to use the lessons from that test run to further iterate the clinic's design and grow in the future.