- Walmart is expanding its nascent health center network into Florida in the first half of next year, the retail giant announced Wednesday.
- The company is still in the early stages of planning, but currently operates four large Walmart Health locations, which include doctors and nurse practitioners, in the Georgia towns of Dallas, Calhoun and Loganville, and one in Springdale, Arkansas, that opened late June.
- Walmart also plans to open additional health clinics in Georgia this year, and is eyeing an expansion into Chicago. But moving into Florida, with a first location planned for the Jacksonville area, represents an investment of "millions of dollars," per a blog post on the news. Walmart did not respond to Healthcare Dive's requests for a more specific number by time of publication.
Health-focused retail behemoths like Walmart, Walgreens and CVS Health, which operates more directly in the industry through its payer and pharmacy benefit management business, have been building out their basic care footprints over the past few years.
Retail clinics can yield additional script-writing and drive front-of-store sales for their owners, and early pilots have generally focused on traditionally underserved areas and states with poor health outcomes, such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia.
Florida has the second-highest number of Walmart stores in the country, after Texas, and is where the Arkansas-based retail giant launched its $4 generic prescription program more than a decade ago. The state also has a large population of elderly patients with chronic health needs at high risk for COVID-19, making it ripe for players looking to provide low-cost preventive care.
The Florida Walmart Health center, like its predecessors, will include a range of primary and urgent care options, including therapy and behavioral health, run by a team of medical professions including physicians, nurse practitioners and dentists. It will have on-site lab, X-ray and diagnostic services and host educational and community events centered around wellness.
Walmart, which brought in more than $514 billion in revenue last year, is too early in planning to announce prices at the Florida store, but told Healthcare Dive it was working with healthcare consultants to determine the prices of different services and that they're intended to be affordable.
The first Walmart Health Center, which opened September 2019 in Dallas, Georgia, charges $40 for a primary care visit for adults, $50 for an adult dental checkup and cleaning and $45 for an eye appointment, while therapy services are $1 per minute.
Walmart, which already runs 19 primary care clinics with a more limited range of services than its Health Centers, has been elbowing further into the traditional health space during the COVID-19 pandemic, confirming earlier this month it planned to offer health insurance policies directly to consumers. And in June, the retailer acquired venture capital-backed tech startup CareZone, which develops apps to help people manage medications and chronic illnesses, in a deal pegged at $200 million.
Earlier this month, Walgreens became the first national pharmacy chain to work toward building out a primary care infrastructure in its stores. The Illinois-based company announced a $1 million investment in the full-service doctors' offices through a partnership with VillageMD, a medical services provider. Walgreens said it plans to open 500 to 700 such locations over the next five years.
For its part, CVS said it plans to have a chain of 1,500 wellness-focused HealthHUB locations by the end of 2021 as part of its enterprise growth strategy, though CEO Larry Merlo has said the stores aim to be a complement to physicians, and not replace them.