Florida will be home to Walmart’s latest full-fledged health centers when the retailer begins opening doctor’s offices at its stores in Jacksonville next year.
Walmart announced this week it would launch Walmart Health in the Jacksonville market, which the chain says will offer low-cost and accessible health care.
“The combined crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession and subsequent loss of health insurance for millions of Americans have reinforced the vulnerabilities of our health care system,” Walmart president of health and wellness Sean Slovenski wrote on a company blog post. “We recognize we can make an impact by increasing access to quality, affordable and convenient health care as we invest millions of dollars and expand Walmart Health into Florida.”
Retailers have already been shifting into health care. CVS has 1,100 Minute Clinic walk-in offices across the country and is planning to add more health care hubs at its stores. Walgreens announced last month it made a deal with primary care provider VillageMD to open hundreds of doctors’ offices over the next five years.
Michael N. Abrams, co-founder of the health care consulting company Numerof & Associates, said retailers are drawn to health care not only as a way to diversify business but also because of consumer demand.
“You have a $3 trillion market, most of whose customers feel like what they get is over-priced and under-delivered,” Abrams said.
Walmart is especially well-positioned, Abrams said. Florida as a state has the second-most Walmart locations after Texas. The chain also says 90 percent of the country is within 10 minutes of a Walmart location. Those brick-and-mortar stores are something its leading competitor, Amazon, doesn’t have.
Amazon first entered the health care market when it bought pharmaceutical delivery company PillPack in 2018.
“(Walmart is) giving people reason to come to their brick-and-mortar locations and walk out with their prescriptions, all their food for the week and other necessities,” Abrams said. “If Walmart gets it right and makes it convenient enough, it leaves Amazon out in the cold.”
Walmart has a few existing health centers in Texas, Georgia and Arizona. The chain is also experimenting with a smaller footprint version in its home state of Arkansas.
The chain says future Florida locations will offer full-service primary care, urgent care, labs and X-ray capability. They also will have mental health, dental and optical services.