91Ƶ

Topics
More on Ambulatory Care

Walmart announces closing of clinics and virtual care

Business model is unsustainable due to a challenging reimbursement environment and escalating operating costs, company says.

Susan Morse, Executive Editor

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Walmart is closing Walmart Health and Walmart Health Virtual Care, saying the business model was not profitable nor sustainable.

The Walmart Health centers opened in 2019.

"Through our experience managing Walmart Health centers and Walmart Health Virtual Care, we determined there is not a sustainable business model for us to continue," the company said by statement. "The decision to close all 51 health centers across five states and shut down the virtual care offering was not easy."

WHY THIS MATTERS

Walmart said the challenging reimbursement environment and escalating operating costs created a lack of profitability.

It does not yet have a specific date for when each center will close, but would share that information "as soon as decisions are made."

Its priority, Walmart said, was "ensuring the people and communities who are impacted are treated with the utmost respect, compassion and support throughout the transition. Today and in the coming days, we are focused on continuity of care for patients and providing impacted associates with respect and assistance as we begin the closing process of the healthcare centers."

The clinics will continue to serve patients while they are open.

"Through their respective employers, these providers will be paid for 90 days, after which eligible providers will receive transition payments," Walmart said.

All associates are eligible to transfer to any other Walmart or Sam's Club location. They will be paid for 90 days, unless they transfer to another location during that time or leave the company, Walmart said. After 90 days, if they do not transfer or leave, eligible associates will receive severance benefits.

"We understand this change affects lives – the patients who receive care, the associates and providers who deliver care and the communities who supported us along the way," Walmart said.

THE LARGER TREND

Moving forward, Walmart said it would take what it has learned to provide health and wellness services across the country through its nearly 4,600 pharmacies and more than 3,000 vision centers. Both have been in operation for 40 years.

"Over the past few years, the importance of pharmacies has continued to grow, and we have expanded the clinical capabilities of the services we provide," Walmart said. "We continue to offer immunizations and have grown to provide testing and treatment services, access to specialty pharmacy medication and care, as well as other essential services such as medication therapy management and a variety of health screenings. With more than 4,000 of our stores in medical provider shortage areas, our pharmacies are often the front door of healthcare."

Walmart said it plans to launch more services such as the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute and health programs to join its fresh food and over-the-counter offerings.

Among the country's largest grocers, Walmart plans this year to introduce a line of premium food called Bettergoods to compete against Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, according to .

However, share prices last week fell for Walmart and Kroger after Amazon unveiled a low-cost grocery delivery program, according to Amazon is expanding its fresh-food business through a delivery subscription benefit in the United States for its Prime members and customers using an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card. It outlined the $9.99 monthly plan last Tuesday, according to the report.Share prices for Walmart were down 1.55% as of this morning.

Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org