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Walmart Health expanding into new markets; partners to speed up construction

Walmart is expanding its one-year-old freestanding health care format beyond its initial home base. It’s also taking a new approach to how the facilities are constructed.

The retail giant said it plans to open seven more locations in Georgia by the end of the fiscal year and two in the Chicago area this fall. Walmart Health debuted in September 2019, in Dallas, Georgia, and has since expanded to six locations, with five in Georgia (including a newly opened site in Cartersville) and one in Arkansas.

In addition, Walmart Health will expand into Florida, with seven locations in the Jacksonville market in 2021, with at least one opening in the early part of the year. Walmart said it is “beginning conversations in the Orlando and Tampa markets.”

“Our experience this year has made two things clear: Walmart Health is having a real impact on increasing access to care in our communities, and there are more neighbors who need our help,” wrote Lori Flees, senior VP and COO, Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness in a post on Walmart’s website. “The past few months in particular have exposed the vulnerabilities of our healthcare system and left many without access to adequate health resources. We know our customers need us now more than ever, which is why we’re announcing an expansion of Walmart Health today.”

Walmart is partnering with Blox, a Bessemer, Ala.-based maker of “medical modules,” to standardize its building construction process as it expands Walmart Health. Blox’s design-manufacture-construct concept will allow Walmart to accomplish more with less, Flees said, with faster, more efficient construction that requires fewer resources. (To date, two Walmart Health facilities have been with Blox, including the new Cartersville location.)

“This innovative collaboration allows us to tailor the Walmart Health design to meet the unique needs of the communities we serve, while also providing the necessary infrastructure to efficiently scale the model,” Flees said.  

Flees said Walmart Health continues to see an increase in visits, with more than 50% booked by returning patients. And, 96% of patients report that they “felt cared for” and had their health needs met during their visits to Walmart Health, she added.

Half of the visits to Walmart Health are for primary care, on average, while the other half is for specialty care such as optometry, dental and behavioral health needs.

“Primary care visits are starting to transition to chronic care management, as patients embrace preventive care,” Flees said. “Our longest-standing Walmart Health locations are seeing the largest shifts towards chronic care management and continuity of care, as the patient population responds to the quality and convenient care offered at Walmart Health.”

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