Beacon Health Options announced it is launching outpatient mental health therapy in retail stores and other locations that the company said will provide "convenience, privacy and accessibility."
The company's Beacon Care Services will opens its first location in a Walmart store in Carrollton, Texas, which is near Dallas.
Beacon Health Options, which works with employers, health plans and government agencies to provide mental health and addiction services, said the retail locations will help address behavioral healthcare professional shortages.
Retail clinics are starting to become the norm for medical care. Pharmacy chain stores like CVS and Walgreens have clinics for patients to get basic care, such as treatment for cold and flu. With this mental health clinic, Beacon and Walmart are seeking to make behavioral health more convenient.
Each Beacon Care Services location will include at least one clinician who will work with patients on issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and grief.
"We chose a retail setting for the first practice because it offers the convenience of a local neighborhood location that is close by and easy to get to and our evening hours accommodate our patients' schedules," Beacon CEO Russell Petrella said in a statement.
More than 10.1 million people live in the area that is facing a provider shortage and only 35% of Texans' mental health needs are met statewide, according to the company. Beacon's first step is in Texas, but the company hopes to expand further and is evaluating other locations.
Meanwhile, Walmart has shown an interest in multiple areas of healthcare. The big box retailer announced earlier this year it had hired Sean Slovenski, former vice president of innovation at Humana, to lead its health and wellness division.
Walmart considered buying the payer earlier this year, but nothing formal has come from those rumors, and Walgreens and Humana is the more likely pairing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Also, Walmart partners directly with hospitals to provide value-based care through bundled payments. For instance, Walmart has a Center of Excellence Network that seeks to reduce unnecessary spinal surgeries. The company contracts with 12 high-quality centers around the U.S., including Mayo Clinic, Mercy Hospital Springfield in Missouri, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Washington and Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, to offer spine surgeries. Walmart covers 100% of procedures, travel to the facilities (including airfare), lodging and expenses at those facilities for the patient and caregiver.