WESLEY CHAPEL – Walmart may not be the first name that comes to mind when it comes to healthcare, but it has established vaccinations, eye centers, and pharmacies as part of its shopping experience.
Now the retail giant is poised to take a bolder step into the Florida healthcare market with the opening of five health centers in stores across the state, including one on State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel. Plans are underway to open another one for Brandon.
Branded as Walmart Health, the centers offer primary care, labs, X-ray and ECG services. Behavioral health and counseling are also available, as well as dental, optician, and hearing specialists. The clinics, typically around 6,500 square feet, have separate entrances as well as an entrance to the store.
Walmart has already pioneered the concept with 24 centers operating in Arkansas, Illinois and Georgia. Its first Florida centers opened in Jacksonville and Orlando in April.
While some retailers like CVS and Walgreens have expanded in-store healthcare as a way to increase foot traffic, Walmart is characterizing its market entry as a way to improve the lives of its customers, especially in rural communities where the access is limited, said David Carmouche, senior vice president of Omnichannel Care Offerings at Walmart. In many of these communities, the local supercenter is a community hub.
“When we talk to our clients about the pain points in their lives, healthcare is one of them,” he said. “Walmart doesn’t need healthcare to get people to its stores. This is really a service offering. “
Walmart sees Florida as an ideal market for business.
The state’s population is estimated to increase by 7 million between 2020 and 2040, according to research from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. This will make it difficult to provide statewide health care, especially in less populated areas, Carmouche said. Walmart has approximately 380 stores across the state.
Nationwide, 90 percent of the population is within 10 miles of a Walmart, with 4,000 stores in areas that the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has designated as medically underserved.
“Across Florida and much of the country, Walmart Supercenters are at the intersection of where people live, but health services aren’t necessarily available.” Carmouche said. “We think we have a role to play.”
But the move could also make commercial sense in the wake of a pandemic. An AlixPartners 2021 survey of health and wellness across six major global markets, including the United States, found that half of consumers believe that a healthy lifestyle has become more important in the past year.
Keep up to date with Tampa Bay’s opening credits
Sign up for our free DayStarter newsletter
We will bring you the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.
You are all registered!
Want more of our free weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s begin.
Explore all your options
To compete with conventional clinics, Walmart is emphasizing accessibility and convenience. The centers are open from 7:30 to 19:30 from Monday to Friday and from 9:00 to 17:00. Saturdays. On Sundays there is a telemedicine service.
The centers will be “networked” for most major health insurers and accept Medicare and Medicaid. There is also an effort to help those who aren’t insured with lower prices, Carmouche said.
Prices are displayed on the wall in the clinic lobby. A visit for illness or injury or an annual checkup costs $ 90. An eye exam costs $ 85 and a dental visit for a new patient costs $ 40.
The clinics will be run by board-certified medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, and dentists employed by healthcare companies with which Walmart partners. Walmart is also hiring community health workers at the centers to provide customers with advice on available services and other assistance.
Carmouche said the centers already opened in Florida have proved popular even without significant marketing. Centers already operating in other states are seeing a high rate of return on business, she said.
“We weren’t sure if people wanted to have health services at a Walmart clinic and they did,” he said. “We feel like we’re launching a good product.”