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The retailization of health care

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MORRISTOWN, N.J. — “Retail is becoming a key driver for health care solutions, and Walmart continues to build on our commitment to make health care and healthier food choices more affordable and accessible for our customers,” said Alex Hurd, senior director of health and wellness transformation at Walmart, during a joint presentation titled “The Role of Retail in Access to High Quality Care at Lower Costs” at the first annual North American Conference on Consumer Healthcare and OTC Medicines.

Everything Health LLC and the Nicholas Hall Group of Companies hosted the two-day event that brought together leaders in the health insurance, pharmaceutical, consumer health care, retail, policy, research and consulting industries.

Hurd pointed out that rising health care expenses represent a growing burden for the American consumer. “With all that is going on in health care today, we are on a pretty bad trajectory and we need to provide consumers with some alternative solutions,” he said. “Walmart continues to put customers first and support them by focusing on easier access to high-quality care and products at lower costs. We are constantly looking at potential solutions, partnerships and new approaches for this ecosystem.”

Hurd then offered examples of some partnerships and programs that the retailer has launched in this area. “With our Wellness Days we bring nurses into our stores to offer free screenings. For 30% of the people that got a screening, it was their first visit to a health care facility in nearly 12 months.”

He pointed out that to help bring simplicity to the changing health insurance market, Walmart is selling health care insurance in some stores with the program Healthcare Begins Here. “It’s an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. Thus far we’ve enrolled thousands of customers and also educated many more than that.”

He added that a new partnership with Quest Diagnostics offers customers the ability to get lab work done conveniently, as well as other health services. The program, which will be available in about 15 Walmart locations by the end of the year, provides lab testing and, eventually, a broader range of health care services. “The new Quest sites will continue our expansion of health care services,” Hurd said. “Partnerships like these are part of Walmart’s ongoing efforts to broaden health care services and provide options for our customers.”

Jamie Grace, senior director and merchandise manager at Walmart, also talked about the Wellness Day program and the work it is doing with the American Diabetes Association to offer support to people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. “Since we had our first Walmart Wellness Day event, we have provided about 1.1 million free health screenings to people across the country,” he noted. “These events have helped countless individuals uncover existing health problems, including high blood pressure, signs of diabetes and other potential illness. We have also been able to lower costs on diabetes testing supplies and make them more affordable.”

The program included a panel discussion on “Establishing Collaborative Relationships with Payer, Retail and CPG Entities to Put Consumers First and Deliver Superior Outcomes.” The panel included Colleen Lindholz, president of The Little Clinic and Kroger Pharmacy. She talked about how Kroger Co. and The Little Clinic are working on collaborative programs with United Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson to help create a more health-conscious customer.

“Our mission at retail is to engage and educate our customers on health care, whether it be at the pharmacy or down the produce isle,” she said. “It’s all about building relationships. A healthier customer creates a healthier population.”


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