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Walmarts Back! Wait, did Walmart ever leave their healthcare ambitions? What are their healthcare ambitions?

No need to guess, they say it in every press release.

FTA

“Telehealth offers a great opportunity to expand access and reach consumers where they are and complements our brick-and-mortar Walmart Health locations. Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president, Health and Wellness in the release. “Our Health & Wellness mission is to focus on the consumer’s seamless experience and improved health. We are xcited to welcome MeMD employees to the Walmart family, and we are looking forward to together, accelerating health care access across the country.”

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What happens to a business when someone gets in between the business and their customer?

It appears to me that Walmart, CVS, Teledeoc, Amazon and others want to get in between healthcare providers and the consumer. What happens after that happens?

#healthcare #healthIT #cio #cmio #chime

https://www-pymnts-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.pymnts.com/healthcare/2021/walmart-health-acquires-telehealth-provider-memd/amp/

Transcript

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the most intelligent robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

  Today in Health it, the story is Walmart is back. I'm not sure they ever left, but they're back. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. I wanna thank our sponsor for today's Serious Healthcare.

They reached out to me about this time last year and said we'd love what you're doing and really appreciate your mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. The rest is history as they say. If you believe in our mission as they do and wanna support the show, please shoot me a note at Partner at this week in health it.com.

Here's today's story. Walmart Health acquires telehealth provider, me, md. I'm getting this story from payments.com, an interesting source, but here we go. Walmart Health has entered into an agreement to acquire me md, a multi-specialty telehealth provider, according to a Thursday May 6th. Press release. The release said the acquisition works towards Walmart's goal of integrated omnichannel health delivery that leverages data and technology to improve engagement, health, equity, and outcomes.

Telehealth offers a great opportunity to expand access. And reach consumers where they are and compliments our brick and mortar Walmart Health locations. Today, people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions.

Said Dr. Cheryl Pegas, executive Vice President of Health and Wellness. In the release, she goes on and says a couple more things. In the next few months, Walmart will use the acquisition to give more access to virtual care around the nation, including urgent, behavioral and primary care. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and no financial details were released.

Me, MD was founded in 2010 by Dr. John Sheffield. In order to provide a nationwide telehealth services, we've achieved incredible strides in making healthcare available to individuals and businesses around the country through our easy, affordable, and intuitive online platform. We can't imagine a better partner than Walmart.

I wouldn't imagine you would. I. Last year payments wrote that Walmart wanted to use its previous experience building retail super centers to apply that to healthcare. The idea followed the retail giants opening of numerous clinics across states like Florida, Georgia, and Arkansas, providing things like basic walk-in service, along with x-rays, behavioral health.

And dental. All right, that's enough from the story. Before I comment on the story, I would like to just rewind to February of this year and back in February, social media was a buzz with the Business Insider article that said Walmart was scaling back its health plans. Remember, here are some of the quotes.

Leadership changes, competing business priorities brought on by the . Pandemic and the complexity of scaling a massive healthcare operation has slowed the clinic rollout. One current employee and two former employees told Insider there's less commitment to the strategy. Several other current employees said Walmart continued to back the clinic strategy.

Adding Walmart was still building clinics and healthcare was still a priority. In a statement to insider, Walmart said it continued to experiment with Walmart health centers. And that the pandemic had reaffirmed its commitment to healthcare. It pointed to the launch of the pharmacy, curbside delivery, COVID-19 testing and Vaccine Administration as evidence.

And it went on and on with that kind of stuff in the article. And at the time I said, don't read too much into this. First of all, the pandemic changed the business environment and every organization had to evaluate their business priorities. You had a leadership change, and anytime you have a leadership change.

There's a moment within the organization that people are wondering what's next? What's next for our department, our part of the organization? What's next for our initiative? Leadership changes bring uncertainty, and that is where we found ourselves in February, and Business Insider decided to take advantage of that.

Because they know, as all of us in healthcare media know that if you mention Amazon, Walmart, and Google or any of those kinds of players and put the word healthcare into it, it garners a lot more hits than any other healthcare story. And that's just a fact. Throwing a little controversy into it. And they had the makings of a great click-through article.

You have to really put these things in context. You have to put them through the filter. Does it make sense to you that Walmart, a public company that needs to find growth, would abandon the largest opportunity in our economy for growth? I. Does it make sense that Walmart, which is the largest employer and has enormous costs in delivering healthcare for their employees, would just throw up their hands after collecting some of the best physician quality and outcomes data across our country?

And does it make sense that Amazon UPS their participation in healthcare at the very time that Walmart would retract? The answer is no. No, and no. So the article of Walmart pulling back from healthcare really was silly. , but there's always truth in every story, right? There's probably some argument within the building of how to expand the pace of the expansion.

How many clinics should they open during a pandemic? How aggressive they should be given the current economic conditions and global growth challenges that they faced across their retail business, but pull back from healthcare, probably not. Also consider the fact that these organizations that are coming into healthcare have a different model for innovation, and it is a fail fast model.

And so we're gonna see these articles that appear to be them failing or pulling back or whatever it looks like at the time, because that's what it does look like. But at the end of the day, they're going to continue to make progress slowly and surely towards the goal or whatever their objective is.

Alright, so let's look at the story in front of us. A national telehealth provider is now part of Walmart Health. The timing is right for this because there's a big push to relax requirements for physicians to practice across state lines. And really looking at that permanently, there's increased cultural adoption of telehealth medium to receive care, and it's a great way to leverage limited doctors across a larger footprint, which is a challenge that they're going to have as they try to grow.

Oh yeah. And you don't have to do the lobbying for reimbursement because healthcare is doing that in full force right now. Walmart stands to gain in every way here, but more importantly, patients stand to gain in every way here as well. Choice, access and likely cost. If Walmart does what Walmart does, all of these things are going to improve with this move.

If I were a healthcare CIO, I would encourage my organization to stop waiting for the reimbursement to be just right before expanding our telehealth outreach. Figure out a way to make it a viable business model without government reimbursement because they're coming for you. They're coming to get in between you and your patients in your community.

And it's not just Walmart, it's Amazon, it's CVS. It's all of them. And once someone gets in between you and your customer or your patient, in this case, they have no intention of ever giving them back. They're going to direct their care and they're going to direct where their care is delivered. And today, it's with you because all healthcare is local.

But in the future, all healthcare might not be local. It might be a plane ride to a specialty center or an academic medical center, or a destination healthcare facility that has a better track record on diagnostics and care. That's the direction I see this going, and I would not let anyone get in between me and my patients at this point.

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