Walmart now offers virtual care to its almost 1.6 million U.S. workers through telehealth providers including Doctor on Demand and 98point6.
However, Walmart’s acquisition of MeMD would allow it to bring virtual care to the Walmart Wellness agenda, as retail clinic owners further attempt to merge their services in an effort to include omnichannel healthcare. As COVID-19 drove unprecedented demand for virtual treatment, both Walgreens and CVS have expanded their telehealth offerings in the last year.
The plan is based on continued patient demand for telehealth, but early indications indicate that as vaccines continue and the coronavirus pandemic fades, virtual care use may slow. Telehealth use by privately covered people fell in February for the first time since September, according to a tracker from the nonprofit Fair Health.
Though the long-term viability of virtual treatment demand post-COVID-19 is unknown, patients will likely continue to seek out low-cost, convenient coverage, fueling the competition among retail clinics to gain market share. Walmart currently operates about 20 primary care clinics and has collaborated with medical network Oak Street Health to staff clinics in a handful of Walmart Supercenters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, in addition to its more than 4,700 pharmacies.
Furthermore, in 2019, Walmart opened the first Walmart Health’superstore,’ which are large facilities that offer primary, hearing, eye, and dental treatment, lab and X-ray facilities, and therapy services and flat-rate pricing for health benefits, aimed at people in underserved communities that have little or limited insurance coverage. In the coming year, the supermarket behemoth plans to spend millions in expanding its network of superstores.
Phoenix, Arizona-based According to its website, MeMD was created in 2010 and provides medical and mental health visits to five million members worldwide via video, phone, and email. It currently has 30,000 customers in the United States, including Carvana, an online used car dealership, and Aflac, an insurance provider.
MeMD’s sales and performance were not disclosed by a company representative. However, experts believe that putting the telehealth provider under Walmart’s umbrella would put even more pressure on telehealth providers due to the highly competitive nature of the sector.