Walmart next month will open a "Walmart Health center" in its Dallas, Georgia, store, a company spokesperson confirmed to Retail Dive in an email.
"Walmart is committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve," the spokesperson said. "The new Walmart Health center in our Dallas, Georgia, store will provide low, transparent pricing for key health services for local customers. We look forward to sharing more details when the facility opens next month."
Walmart already runs healthcare clinics in several stores in some Southern states. But the new Georgia location, which is taking appointments starting Sept. 13, will add services like dental, mental health counseling, X-rays and audiology, according to a report from CNBC.
Walmart has long been a healthcare provider beyond its pharmacy operations, running healthcare clinics in several stores. Services (which range in price from $59 to $99 per visit without insurance and also accept a number of insurance plans), include primary care, treatment of illnesses and injuries, management of ongoing conditions, physicals and wellness checks, and lab tests and immunizations, according to Walmart's website.
The retail giant now appears to be expanding that, positioning itself against CVS Health, which recently announced plans to expand its "Health Hub" pilot to 1,500 locations by the end of 2021 (and has acquired health insurer Aetna).
American consumers are increasingly faced with difficult insurance and care options, making the market poised for possible disruption. Walmart is positioned to take advantage of that by offering more integrated healthcare. In fact, Walmart has reportedly been mulling some sort of expanded play for a while.
"It’s evident to both inside- and outside-sector players that traditional healthcare delivery organizations are missing the mark," Michael Abrams, Managing Partner of global healthcare consulting firm Numerof & Associates, told Retail Dive in an email. "Being the largest U.S. employer, Walmart’s decision to move into this space holds tremendous potential for its workers and its patrons, especially those for whom care is expensive, inefficient and difficult to access."
Last year the company was said to be considering two major acquisitions in the space — of online pharmacy site PillPack and health insurance giant Humana, though neither transpired. Amazon ultimately grabbed PillPack. But Senior Vice President of Health and Wellness Sean Slovenski did join Walmart from Humana last summer and is leading the current changes, according to CNBC's report.
But Walmart also faces competition in the space, as others also look at the opportunity. Malls are adding clinics to occupy space abandoned by retail tenants, for example. Even electronics retailer Best Buy found a way into the market with its acquisition last year of health and safety solutions company GreatCall, which has turned out to be a lucrative move.