Wal-Mart inks deal to open in-store clinics in 200-plus locations

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart has announced that it will open in April its first co-branded in-store health clinic in Atlanta, Little Rock and Dallas, paving the way toward having 400 co-branded clinics by 2010.

“We know that America’s healthcare challenges are larger than any one corporation, but we’re committed to doing our part to expand access to quality, affordable health care—our commitment to partnering with local hospital systems is evidence,” stated John Agwundobi, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president and president of health and wellness. “Throughout our convenient clinics pilot, customers told us that we are providing a service that benefits their communities. We are confident that our new model of partnership with hospital systems will provide access to quality healthcare services for folks who don’t want to wait in a busy emergency room or can’t get in to see their physician.”

There currently are 77 limited-scope medical clinics open in Wal-Mart stores across 12 states through several partnerships with independent healthcare clinic operators. As widely reported, walk-in clinic operator CheckUps recently closed 23 clinics in Wal-Mart in four southern states.

Now, the big box retailer has inked a deal with clinic operator RediClinic and local hospital systems to open the co-branded clinics, dubbed The Clinic at Wal-Mart, in 200 Wal-Mart Supercenters. Wal-Mart also has signed a letter of intent to partner with St. Vincent Health System, a part of the Catholic Healthcare Initiatives system, to open four co-branded clinics in Little Rock.

Responding to the news, Citigroup analyst Deborah Weinswig said in a research note that she expects the move to drive new prescription customers and bolster front-end sales.

“Wal-Mart is giving operators a turnkey solution: offering a 500+ square foot clinic with all the bells and whistles. The operator will get major brand visibility and will not have to negotiate for space or location, deal with building permits, contractors of suppliers. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart can standardize the clinic experience no matter what store patients visit,” stated Weinswig.

She noted that she believes Wal-Mart is changing its retail clinic strategy on the heels of the closure of CheckUps by now requiring that clinic operators within its stores be either a hospital system or be closely affiliated with one.

The Clinic at Wal-Mart, owned and operated by St. Vincent Health System, is expected to open in Little Rock by the end of April, as will the clinic owned and operated by RediClinic in association with a local hospital system in Atlanta. By the summer, Wal-Mart expects to open co-branded clinics with RediClinic and a local hospital system in Dallas.

“Wal-Mart Supercenters are a great venue for RediClinic and its health care system partners because there are millions of customers in these stores every day who need easier access to the high quality, affordable health care that we provide,” stated Web Golinkin, chief executive officer of RediClinic.

The clinics operated by both RediClinic and St. Vincent plan to accept health insurance plans including Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others.

Login or Register to post a comment.