Walmart taps former Humana exec to lead health unit
- Sean Slovenski, former vice president of innovation at Humana, has been named vice president of health and wellness at Walmart, according to a report from Bloomberg and confirmed by Walmart to Healthcare Dive. The move comes as Walmart begins to ramp up its focus on healthcare.
- Slovenski was most recently president of Healthways' population health unit. Healthways was acquired by Sharecare, a Walmart partner, in 2016.
- Reports that Walmart is in early talks to acquire Humana surfaced in late March, though the talk has been tamped down to a conversation about strengthening their ties. The two companies already partner on Medicare Part D drug plans.
Per an internal memo cited in Bloomberg's report, Slovenski's hire is the result of Walmart's decision to "put more focus on [its] Health & Wellness business in the near term," with U.S. CEO Greg Foran calling the move "of strategic importance."
Walmart is likely feeling the heat as Amazon rushes full-steam ahead into healthcare, potentially gobbling up Walmart's potential market share.
Amazon is reportedly in talks with digital prescription platform Xealth to launch a pilot that would have doctors prescribe products to patients before they're discharged. The online retailer also last month acquired online pharmacy PillPack, which delivers individualized rolls of pre-sorted medicines to people who manage multiple daily medications.
Walmart's partnership with Humana provides prescription drug plans for Medicare enrollees and allows for, in some cases, steep discounts on prescriptions. However, customers must pick up their drugs at a Walmart or a Sam's Club brick-and-mortar location.
Walmart did score a recent win in health IT, scooping up a patent for a system that would store a person’s medical information in a blockchain database and allow first responders to retrieve it in the event of an emergency. The patent puts Walmart in contention with companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet, all of which have taken a swing at developing medical record tools.
Earlier this year, Walmart partnered with Emory Healthcare to develop an accountable care plan to serve as the primary health coverage for Walmart associates at 55 locations in the Atlanta area. The partnership follows a trend of large employers cutting out insurers and working directly with providers to develop health plans for their employees, and is the focus of the anticipated joint venture between Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway.
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