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Walmart’s first owned health clinic could mean big changes ahead for convenient care industry

BY Antoinette Alexander

As reported by DSN’s sister publication Retailing Today, Walmart has opened in Copperas Cove, Texas, its first owned healthcare clinic.

Labeed Diab, Walmart’s president of health and wellness, explained during a briefing in advance of its shareholder meeting that the new clinic is a way for the big-box retailer to provide convenient and almost free (i.e., $4 for employees) access to health care. And, because the retailer avoids the expense of having its associates visit other doctors, it can pass the savings along to customers with a reduced price of $40.

This real question here: “What would it mean for the industry if Walmart seriously jumped into the convenient care clinic business?”

There are currently about 1,600 convenient care clinics and researchers expect robust growth in the coming years. One projection provided by Marketdata Enterprises expects the number to reach 2,700 sites by 2016. No doubt that number could skyrocket if Walmart jumped into the market with both feet.

Just consider the fact that, as of April 30, Walmart operated more than 4,200 stores within the United States, most of which are Supercenters with more than 3,300 locations. Just a small — very small — fraction of its stores have currently have clinics.

Back in 2009, Walmart announced that it intended to contract with local hospitals and other organizations to open as many as 400 in-store health clinics over the next two to three years, but it had to close some locations. Today, Walmart’s website lists approximately 90 “Clinics at Walmart” in operation. Each of these medical clinics is owned and operated by an independent company that is not affiliated with Walmart.

The news that Walmart has opened its first owned healthcare clinic hardly comes as a big surprise. Back in 2011, Kalorma Information issued its report on the retail clinic industry, dubbed "Retail Clinics 2011: Market Assessment, Supplier Sales, Key Players and Trends," and noted that Walmart had sent out a request-for-information document to strategic partners, which was obtained by media sources.

The document indicated that Walmart planned to offer primary care services to its customers and sought a partner to help do that. Further statements indicated that the retailer intended to take advantage of healthcare reform and the possibility of millions of newly insured.

While it’s not entirely clear if this first owned healthcare clinic is a result of, or related to, that request-for-information, what is clear is that, if Walmart expands the concept, the convenient care industry could be in for a significant disruption.

We are certainly closely watching and, apparently, so are you. Soon after posting the article on the DSN site, it rose up the “most viewed” list of DSN articles with record speed.

To read more on Walmart’s shareholder meeting, click here.

 

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Bazooka partners with DreamWorks for new merchandise

BY Ryan Chavis

NEW YORK — Bazooka Candy Brands will collaborate with DreamWorks Animation on a limited-edition candy line, as well as a multiplatform merchandising program, to support the film "How to Train Your Dragon 2." The film opens in theaters June 13.

The campaign will bring consumers a limited-edition Dragon Berry flavor and themed wrapping for Bazooka Candy Brands’ top-selling candies, which include Jumbo Push Pop, Juicy Drop Pop, Baby Bottle Pop and Ring Pop.

“’How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is set to be one of the biggest movie events of the summer, and the limited-edition line will provide fans with another opportunity to enjoy this big animation debut beyond the theater,” said Anthony Trani, VP marketing, Bazooka Candy Brands. “We believe our collaboration with DreamWorks Animation for this release is a perfect fit, as the fun characters and storyline fully resonate with the entertaining nature of our candy portfolio.”

 

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Study: Low vitamin D levels associated with higher potential of premature death

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that persons with lower blood levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely as people with higher blood levels of vitamin D.

The finding, published in the June 12 issue of American Journal of Public Health, was based on a systematic review of 32 previous studies that included analyses of vitamin D, blood levels and human mortality rates. The specific variant of vitamin D assessed was 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the primary form found in blood.

“Three years ago, the Institute of Medicine concluded that having a too-low blood level of vitamin D was hazardous,” stated Cedric Garland, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego and lead author of the study. “This study supports that conclusion, but goes one step further. The 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) blood level cutoff assumed from the IOM report was based solely on the association of low vitamin D with risk of bone disease. This new finding is based on the association of low vitamin D with risk of premature death from all causes, not just bone diseases.”

Garland said the blood level amount of vitamin D associated with about half of the death rate was 30 ng/ml. He noted that two-thirds of the U.S. population has an estimated blood vitamin D level below 30 ng/ml.

“This study should give the medical community and public substantial reassurance that vitamin D is safe when used in appropriate doses up to 4,000 International Units per day,” commented Heather Hofflich, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Medicines. “However, it’s always wise to consult your physician when changing your intake of vitamin D and to have your blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D checked annually. Daily intakes above 4,000 IU per day may be appropriate for some patients under medical supervision.”

The average age when the blood was drawn in this study was 55 years; the average length of follow-up was nine years. The study included residents of 14 countries, including the United States, and data from 566,583 participants.

This study was funded by the UC San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

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