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Amazon, Walmart, and Dollar General are taking significant measures to extend their healthcare services, putting them in a position to create a significant healthcare paradigm shift. They each have announced yet more changes over the last few months in the hope of expanding their healthcare/telehealth services and making them more accessible. Telehealth.org’s previous article Are Amazon Care, Walmart, CVS & Dollar General Upending Healthcare? reviewed these retail giants’ earlier progress into healthcare services and their announced intentions. Taken as a group, these retailers are positioned to make seismic changes in the telehealth market.
Amazon Care, the giant e-commerce healthcare project that provides telehealth services and in-person primary care, debuted in 2019 as a pilot program. It was initially available to Amazon workers and their families in Seattle, but Amazon eventually expanded it to all employees in Washington state and announced intentions to expand to other companies throughout the country in March 2021. According to Insider, Amazon will soon offer the “full package” of hybrid healthcare (combination of virtual and in-person services) in Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and Boston, in 2021.
Amazon made a splash in the telehealth market earlier this year when it revealed intention to roll out its app-based care services in Washington state. Furthermore, Amazon care intends to expand its healthcare in-person services to 20 major cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, San Jose, and St. Louis by the end of 2022. In addition to its home state of Washington, this would increase its presence in 22 cities. More recent announcements suggest that Amazon seems to be positioning itself to extend healthcare coverage to more companies and patients by approaching health insurers, including Aetna, Premera Blue Cross, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
Walmart currently provides healthcare services through its 20 health centers, called Walmart Care Clinics in Arkansas, Georgia, and Illinois. A new entity on the block, Walmart Health, is building seven primary care clinics in Northeast Florida as well. No opening dates have been disclosed for the Florida locations. Walmart health offers services in primary care, optometry, dentistry, x-rays, labs, audiology, wellness and healthcare classes, and counseling. Their counseling services are described on their website as:
“Counseling services with a licensed and trained behavioral health clinician for help with depression, anxiety, stress, grief, and relationship issues.”
Most recently, Walmart Health seems to be reorganizing its top management and investing in the telehealth market. The senior vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of Walmart’s health and wellness division, Lori Flees, is no longer COO and is moving outside of the company’s healthcare operations. Meanwhile, Marcus Osborne, senior vice president of Walmart Health, is no longer supervising the company’s clinic and has moved to play a new role in health and wellness strategy and innovation.
Dollar General has a strong presence in rural America, where the healthcare industry has struggled to provide access to healthcare for people in need. In July, Dollar General hired its first chief marketing officer (CMO), Albert Wu, to strengthen relationships with healthcare service providers and build a customer network. Dollar General’s healthcare products will concentrate on services that rural clients may not have access to, such as eye care, telehealth, or prescription medication delivery. Dollar General has partnered with online pharmacy Genius Rx to deliver medication directly to patients’ homes. Furthermore, Dollar General also established a partnership with a telehealth provider called Babylon. The telehealth company began offering its services to Dollar General customers across 17 states in August 2020.
These three leading retail companies in the United States currently provide telehealth services to meet a wide range of patients’ primary, urgent care, and behavioral health services. The race to gain the largest market share via well-funded efforts by these players is noteworthy. Telehealth.org’s mission is to provide you with up-to-date information related to telehealth. Sign up for Telehealth.org’s newsletter for further updates.
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