Walmart teams up with Health at Scale to help its workers find the right doctor

Walmart is partnering with artificial intelligence company Health at Scale to connect Walmart employees with providers best suited to their health needs and care history.

Health at Scale’s platform uses machine learning and AI to give patients personalized provider recommendations, by modeling which providers are likely to provide better outcomes based on the patient’s individual health characteristics.

The tools will be available to Walmart associates and their families enrolled in the company’s health plan at select locations.

“Customizing services and treatments to individual needs is the next frontier in healthcare and is a major part of Walmart’s commitment to helping associates and their family members find great doctors who consistently deliver the best value and quality care in their community,” said Lisa Woods, vice president of Walmart’s U.S. benefits division, in a statement. “We are excited to launch this collaboration with Health at Scale and are eager to see the impact that another innovative benefit like this will have on associates’ healthcare experience and outcomes.” 

The tech will integrate with Walmart’s health plan administrator’s search engine and virtual care referrals. The platform leverages machine intelligence to identify providers who have successfully treated patients with similar characteristics and care needs and also uses patient health data to determine which patients could be at a higher risk of adverse outcomes to recommend specific providers to those patients when they need it most.

“Finding the right provider is one of the most important health decisions a patient makes. It is also one of the hardest. Looking at providers in isolation ignores the fact that the same provider can be a good or bad match for different patients. What we really need to optimize is the patient-provider match,” said Health at Scale CEO Zeeshan Syed in a statement. “We’re delighted to work with Walmart as the leader in employer health and benefits innovation and provide Walmart associates and their families in certain locations with smart, hyper-personalized provider matches that reflect a deep understanding and respect for their individual health needs.” 

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Healthcare organizations increasingly rely on AI-based tools and other technologies to offer a personalized care experience to their patients.

George Van Antwerp, managing director at Deloitte, told Fierce Healthcare in a December interview that customizing the consumer experience in healthcare will be critical for building patient trust among retail healthcare’s biggest players.

“It’s about understanding the consumer and being able to create a personalized set of experiences for them that blends that omnichannel strategy,” he said. “Based on where I am, my disease, my benefit coverage and my existing dynamics, what’s the best path for me to choose and the best way for me to be supported?”

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Walmart has been increasing its patient base since the retail giant stepped into healthcare in 2019 and now offers a slew of services in primary care, telehealth, discounted pharmaceuticals and more.

Perhaps the chain’s biggest competitive advantage is its national presence, operating more than 5,000 locations in the U.S.

Speaking at HLTH 2021 last fall, Marcus Osborne, former senior vice president at Walmart Health, said the business will continue to build out its omnichannel care offerings that address individual consumer needs.

“I hear about how often Americans just don’t engage in their health, and I often think that that’s not the challenge of the individual,” he said. “If people aren’t engaging, you haven’t created the solution that allows them to engage. They do want to engage."