Short Takes On News & Events

Walmart Clarifies, Sort Of

By Julie Appleby

November 9th, 2011, 6:06 PM

Photo by code poet via Flickr

Does Walmart aim to be a major player in the world of primary care health services – or not?
A request for information letter the retailer sent to its strategic partners in late October says the firm wants just that – but  Walmart backed off on its own document Wednesday, calling  part of it “overwritten and incorrect.”

We asked spokeswoman Tara Raddohl to clarify. Raddohl said the incorrect part referred only to the opening section titled “intent.”

That section reads, in its entirety:

This Request for Information (RFI) is being sent to potential vendors who currently have products or services that may address all or part of the requirements associated with Walmart’s strategic direction. Walmart intends to build a national, integrated, low-cost primary care healthcare platform that will provide preventative and chronic care services that are currently out of reach for millions of Americans. Walmart intends to do this in an affordable and accessible way while maintaining or improving quality outcomes. Walmart seeks partners who have a care model or capability that can help dramatically drive down the cost of care, while maintaining or improving quality on a national level.”

Walmart did not dispute the authenticity of the document. Raddohl would not give any details on what role, exactly, Walmart wants to play in health care – and she would not elaborate on other parts of the 14-page request for information.

Other sections of the information request refer to Walmart wanting to be the  “largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation,” and to “dramatically lower the cost of healthcare while maintaining or improving outcomes.”

She declined to say how many requests were distributed, to whom, or what types of companies they represent.

The only thing the company would say for certain is: “we are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform,” according to the statement from to John Agwunobi, senior vice president and president of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness.

4 Responses to “Walmart Clarifies, Sort Of”

  1. Great move, Dr.John,let me know, if Lee Memorial or I can assist.

    James Green
    Board of Directors
    Lee Memorial Health System

  2. No, better to build a local, fragmented, high-cost specialty care platform. That will work.

  3. A major and key factor in controlling health care costs is enlisting the public in keeping itself healthy. If all in store clinics offer is another “fix it after it is broke” medical service, it won’t move the cost control marble up the mountain very far, or generate store traffic on a consistent basis. On the other hand, retail store convenience could highly facilitate management of low cost health insurance programs that make the stores important control points for nutrition, exercise, mental health and addictive habit management programs that offer and perhaps expands on the preventive medicine features of the Affordable Care Act. Existing laws already contain the features that make it possible for insurers and their care providers to offer these programs and thereby reduce insurance costs to individuals and their employers by as much as 50% when fully implemented. The same clinics could offer primary care services, either linked or separately. Existing wellness programs fully support the efficacy of this approach to health and cost management. For more information see ACA Digest at http://www.acadigest.org.

  4. Denny Stam says:

    Walmart is open seven days a week-many health providers M to F-if KP, (best heath care, non-profit, in the country), could make an agreement with Walmart or Patient first, we would all benefit. We would also be covered out of state when traveling or staying out of town. Kaiser’s main stay is preventative medicine , (Monday thru Friday). Often you can not wait from Saturday to Monday for medical assistants.

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