Mergers and acquisitions among pharmaceutical companies has kicked into high gear this year, mirroring the larger trend sweeping across the entire spectrum of the health care industry since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act two years ago.
As the country’s healthcare system continues to move away from a fee-for-service structure, retail-based clinics are taking on added significance for the operators of these facilities and their patients.
A new and radically different concept for frontline health care emerged last year when Walmart unveiled its first Walmart Care Clinics in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. If things go according to plan, patients and health plan payers across the United States can look forward to a cheaper and more affordable alternative to the family doctor for nearly all their primary care needs.
Why would Walmart launch an insurance education service for the 140 million Americans who shop its stores each week? For one thing, because more than 60% of Americans have a tough time understanding their health insurance plan options, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and nearly 40% feel that they picked the wrong plan after enrolling.
While building a 4,500-store retail pharmacy powerhouse in the United States, Walmart also has kept pace with the specialty pharmacy revolution and is positioning itself to play a stronger role in this most innovative, dynamic and complex area of pharmaceutical R&D and bioengineering.
A retail pharmacy giant is beginning to fully harness the power of scale. Now firmly established as one of the top retailers of prescription drugs in the United States, Walmart may soon lay claim to an even bigger share of the pharmacy and OTC market as its leaders learn to align pharmacy operations and in-store marketing efforts more closely with other departments within Walmart’s Supercenters, discount stores and Neighborhood Markets.
The retail behemoth that is Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is fixing its sights on a new target: the nation’s overstretched and overly costly primary healthcare system. The result could be a major disruption of that system and the acceleration of health reform in America.