Walmart To Partner With Hospitals, Open More In-Store Clinics

55% of the people who visit Walmart’s in-store clinics don’t have health insurance, says the New York Times.

Moving to upgrade its walk-in medical clinic business, Wal-Mart is set to announce on Thursday plans for several hundred new clinics at its stores, using a standardized format and jointly branded with hospitals and medical groups.
The first of the new Clinic at Wal-Mart walk-in centers, as they will be called, is to open in Little Rock, Ark., in April and be run by nurse practitioners employed by the St. Vincent Health System, a three-hospital group in central Arkansas.

Wal-Mart also says it plans to brand 200 of the new clinics with RediClinics, one of the Revolution Health companies of Steven Case, the AOL co-founder. Those are to be operated in partnership with various local health care providers. RediClinic, which already operates 13 clinics in Wal-Mart stores, plans to open one of the new units in Atlanta in April and another in Dallas next summer.

“We have learned that people are willing to receive their health care from the front of a store or the back of a drugstore,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, a medical doctor who is a Wal-Mart senior vice president. “But customers also have said they would rather it be delivered by a trusted name, a local health care practice, a trusted local provider of care.”

The clinics feature convenient hours, posted price lists, short waiting times, and are able to administer treatment for common ailments such as runny noses and sore throats.

Would you use a Walmart clinic?

Wal-Mart Will Expand In-Store Medical Clinics [NYT]
(Photo:Mark Schiefelbein for The New York Times)

Comments

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  1. quagmire0 says:

    “Hi Everybody!”

  2. Freedomboy says:

    Bad IDEA!!!!!!

    Race to the bottom is BAD.

  3. DragonflyLotus says:

    Will the clinics provide screening for lead poisoning?

  4. Tacoma would of known ya says:

    Well, if everything else is racing to the bottom, then at least some people who’s wages are almost at the bottom will have access to SOME customer focused healthcare and choice.

  5. m4ximusprim3 says:

    The thought of walmart providing medical care scares me slightly.

    However, if they really do what they claim in the article, they might be acceptable for simple health related needs without the hassle of a real doctor’s office or ER. It doesn’t take a full operating room to splint a badly sprained finger or stitch up a moderately bad contusion.

  6. darkclawsofchaos says:

    If it was Costco, it would sound like a great idea. But Walmart, I would probably be much better off hopping into a dumpster and drinking the expired medicine I will find. Though their pharmacy doesn’t seem bad,.

  7. laserjobs says:

    Can issue prescriptions for oxycontin and anti-depressants because that would be really cool.

  8. m4ximusprim3 says:

    I would definitely NOT go to them for any sort of diagnosis or complicated health problem though.

    It scares me that this may be the only realistic medical treatment option for people without insurance.

  9. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    Will this be any different that those stand alone Patient First type walk-in places?

    It really depends on what is wrong with me. Something minor, sure I’d go.

  10. crescentia says:

    Notice it says nurse practioners and not doctors. No thanks.

  11. AsparagusSyndrome says:

    This is one small step towards the Sovereign Nation of Walmart…

  12. samurailynn says:

    Honestly, it might not be so bad. I was between jobs for a while, so I didn’t have employer health care. However, my husband was working and he made enough that I didn’t qualify for any sort of state assisted health care. We made too much for assistance, and too little to do it ourselves. It would have been nice to know that there was a clinic I could go to if something happened.

  13. samurailynn says:

    @crescentia: One of the best doctors I’ve had was a nurse practitioner.

  14. weakdome says:

    Shopping List:
    3 boxes of 9mm ammunition
    2 cases 10w-30 motor oil
    Beef Jerkey
    Colonoscopy
    Singing Wall-Mount Fish
    Beer Nuts
    White Tank Tops

  15. arch05 says:

    @m4ximusprim3: A contusion doesn’t require stitching.

  16. Tush says:

    Soon enough they’ll be offering people “Wal-Aparments”, get your own 2-bedroom apartment within your nearest Walmart! Also, now opening Walmart schools, Walmart dollars, you’ll never have to leave Walmart again!

  17. mopar_man says:

    Doctors who can’t get a job anywhere else diagnosing my ailments? I think I’ll stay far, far away from there (as I already do with Wal-Mart).

  18. snowmentality says:

    @m4ximusprim3: We’re a pretty anti-Walmart household — but that said, for a while there my boyfriend had no insurance and barely enough money to eat. A Walmart clinic plus the $4 Walmart generic drugs might have let him get treatment rather than hoping he was young and healthy enough to fight off strep throat with no antibiotics. (He fought it off, but coughed for over a month afterwards.)

    It’s a freaking sad state of affairs when the Walmart clinic sounds like a lifesaver.

  19. t6283798 says:

    yes, because what we need more of in this country is a further integration of the corporate world & our health care system.

    gross.

  20. jpx72x says:

    @Freedomboy: If by race to the bottom, you mean that visiting a doc for most things just isn’t worth $200, then yes, it’s a race to the bottom. I like this race.

  21. youbastid says:

    Hmmm. I think this might be a positive thing, if it wasn’t for the disgusting situation our health care system is in. I like the idea of a small clinic to help simple ailments. Unfortunately, people without healthcare that have much more serious problems will increasingly turn to clinics like this since they have nowhere else to go. Bad.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I have used the Walmart Vision center before. I have to admit, they were reasonably priced, provided me with cheap quality frames for my glasses and even picked up a small problem that my regular eye doctor missed. For a minor issue (a sore throat, for example) I’d have no problem going to a Walmart Clinic.

  23. darkened says:

    @Tush: I’m down when they start including hand jobs with the coffee.

  24. theirishscion says:

    @crescentia: Yeah, nurse practitioners are actually pretty damn useful and highly trained. That said, I’d certainly prefer to see a full MD, but the price difference is substantial.

  25. B* says:

    Walmart health care is better than no health care. If people are concerned, we should be voting and protesting for the government to provide health care and fair wages for everyone so that no one needs these clinics.

  26. savvy999 says:

    Properly staffed (yes, with NPs) and supervised (by area MDs), this is a GREAT thing. The loss of the ‘neighborhood clinic’– the primary place to go for minor bumps and bruises and coughs and as a first-level filter for major issues– is one of the reasons why the health care system is so screwed up in the first place.

  27. This is awful, but I do agree that this may help bring down the cost of private clinics that have to compete. Then again, I really don’t trust those 5 dollar prescriptions…

  28. DrGirlfriend says:

    I can’t imagine that these clinics would be meant for any kind of complicated health care. I think these would be more like basic walk-in clinics for minor issues, and if there is something worse going on then they would refer you to a clinic or doctor who could treat you properly. It sure is a shame that it’s coming to this, but as long as the clinics are directly linked to a proven healthcare system, it could make basic healthcare that much more accessible. Which is what we need more of, no?

  29. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I vastly prefer nurse practitioners and recently graduated doctors for routine health care, and experienced doctors for specialties and surgery. I don’t need to deal with the set-in-stone preconceptions of an old doctor who hasn’t kept up with the new technology when I’m getting diagnosed, and I don’t want to lose the advantage of experience when it comes to treating a known health issue.

    There’s a small clinic at my local grocery store. I got a flu shot there and was extremely happy with the way I was treated there. I would definitely go to a Wal-Mart clinic if it was as clean, comfortable, and efficient. My concern is that it might wind up looking like an inner-city emergency room. I am also concerned that people who don’t have health insurance would attempt to rely on the clinic for advanced issues that require a specialist.

  30. Basic, affordable health care that’s readily available for minor ailments with an appointment made two weeks in advance? What’s not to love? In much of Europe, the pharmacists there can do much of the same things already.

    Real – and practical – fixes in health care are going to come from market-based’innovations’ like this.

  31. @laserjobs: That’s a good question, especially in areas that have histories of prescription drug use (ie Kentucky and Oxy). Does anyone know about that?

  32. Anyone notice the story well below this one about Americans going to Mexico for dental work?

    Gotta love the insane health-care insurance bureaucracy that makes Mexican dental work and Walmart nurses a better option than, you know, insurance-plan covered doctors.

  33. @arch05: A contusion can lead to a laceration. Bad ones often do, so yes, a contusion CAN require stitches.

  34. IC18 says:

    Its a sad sad state were in. My parents are in the same boat no insurance and just barely above the maximum income to receive state assistance. It would have saved them probably a couple hundreds if they went to Walimart for bronchitis and generic drugs.

  35. TheOtherJen says:

    @crescentia:

    Nurse Practitioners are definitely qualified to treat common things like sore throats and colds. There is nothing wrong with going to a nurse practitioner. People don’t need to see a Doctor for every single little thing.

    I don’t see a huge problem with this. Not everyone can afford to go (or have to go) to their doctor everytime they get sick.

  36. rustyni says:

    : /

    Thanks, but if I’m so anal that I won’t even allow Wal-Mart to do my hair and nails (ours has a “salon” ), I’m going to have to say NO to the Wal-Mart clinics as well. Thanks, but I don’t need a nurse practitioner that graduated 120 out of 150 in his class diagnosing my ailments.

  37. fizzyg says:

    This would be great for simple things like UTIs. It’s frustrating when you don’t have insurance to make a doctor’s appointment for something that you *know* you have, you know how to treat, and will still cost you $100+, as well as added time waiting and off work, just for you to pee in a cup. :p

  38. bustit22 says:

    Just because your doctor doesn’t work at Walmart doesn’t mean he isn’t a bad doctor. I think this is a great. It gives the uninsured (by choice or circumstance) the ability to get affordable healthcare.

  39. Feminist Whore says:

    I saw Charles Fishman (author of The Wal-Mart Effect) on BookTv about a year ago, and he had said that Wal-Mart sees their future in health care. I thought it was a good idea then, I think it’s a good idea now. Many uninsured people (like me) already end up going to walk-in urgent care clinics – the only option being an emergency room visit, and having clinics in Wal-Marts is nothing more than a change of location IMO.

    And hey looky here:
    “Operator of Walk-In Clinics Shuts 23 Located in Wal-Mart Stores”
    [www.nytimes.com]

  40. chiieddy says:

    CVS is starting to provide similar services. While I would not go to Wal-mart, I would go to CVS if it were less money than going to my dr. As my Dr. copay is $15, I doubt that’s the case.

  41. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    “We have learned that people are willing to receive their health care from the front of a store or the back of a drugstore,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, a medical doctor who is a Wal-Mart senior vice president.”

    Really.

    According to this “Dr.”, the people of the United States are somehow exercising a choice to do without access to adequate health care services so that they can be herded like chattel into a retail pen and be branded like animals.

    Why does this kind of ass-hat nonsense sound so familiar? Where have I heard this kind of doublespeak before?

    “There is no doubt in my mind when history was written, the final page will say: Victory was achieved by the United States of America for the good of the world.” –George W. Bush, addressing U.S. troops at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, Jan. 12, 2008

    Right.

    “I heard somebody say, ‘Where’s (Nelson) Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead. Because Saddam killed all the Mandelas.” –George W. Bush, on the former South African president, who is still very much alive, Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2007

    That’s enough, George. Thank you.

    =====

    “Most of us are dissatisfied with our current system. In health polling, happiness with the system is generally measured through a three-answer question: Does your system merely need minor changes, as it works pretty well? Does it need fundamental changes? Or does it need to be rebuilt? Of all the countries surveyed — including the supposedly dystopic U.K. and Canada — Americans are the least likely to report relative satisfaction, and the most likely to call for a fundamental rebuilding. Only 16 percent of us are happy. In Canada and the U.K., that number is 26 percent. In the Netherlands, it’s 42 percent. Meanwhile, 34 percent of Americas want to completely rebuild. Only 12 percent of Canadians say the same, and only 15 percent of U.K. residents want a new system. So paying more than twice as much as anyone else, we have the lowest satisfaction with our health care system. Lower than the countries with waiting lines. Lower than Germany, and Australia, and New Zealand.”

    [www.prospect.org]

  42. crescentia says:

    @TheOtherJen:
    I used to have Kaiser insurance and they would always stick me with nurse practitioners who didn’t know how to treat my severe sinus issues….so I have a reason to be weary.

  43. Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector will be your doctor today.

    Take two of these cans of bud, watch the Daytona 500, and call me some time after my hangover wears off.

  44. theblackdog says:

    Aren’t there a number of similar clinics like this in Canada? If I recall correctly in Sicko, there was one clinic that was part of a drugstore up there.

  45. marike says:

    The clinics sound similar to university/college health centers that are provided for students. Many are staffed by NPs and they’re totally competent to diagnose most of the ailments that come in (strep throat, mono, STDs, UTIs, colds, flus, etc).

    I’d go if I ever hit hard times and was without insurance.

  46. samurailynn says:

    Everyone is saying that only the worst of the worst doctors would work there. Haven’t any of you heard of people who take low paying jobs where they will have to deal with the poor because they want to help people? I know a guy who is about to enter medical school. His after graduation plans include gaining experience while working in low paid situations so that he can help the poor, and hopefully someday opening a clinic for low cost treatment.

  47. ajmccoll says:

    I’ve used one of these in-store clinics (it was at Target) and I had a rather pleasant experience with them. At the time I did have heath insurance, but my mom thought it would be faster to go to the clinic inside of Target, instead of the local emergency room or patients first because of how long I would have to wait. I waited for maybe 30-minutes and went in and got checked. The lady working looked in my ears and throat, saw that it was just my sinuses draining, and suggested I buy Sudafed to treat it. She didn’t charge me a dime and I was feeling better the next week.

  48. Brad2723 says:

    Sounds like a good idea for someone with certain minor ailments. For someone like me, with health insurance, it is sometimes easier (and faster)to get treated at one of these doc-in-a-box places then it is to make an appointment with my regular doctor.

  49. Anonymous says:

    @BRAD2723 More often than not, I can never get a same day appointment with my PCP, and by the time he does get to see me, I am already getting over my ailment. An option like this would be great.

  50. Okaasan says:

    “The clinics feature convenient hours, posted price lists . . .”

    Can you imagine what those signs will look like – all the misspellings and price oopsies? I may need to get a new camera for this one.

  51. youbastid says:

    @Okaasan: Mammograham: Was 103.89, now 105.88!!! Rollin’ back prices every day!

  52. Uhm, no. But then again, I have taxpayer subsidized health insurance. There are times when it’s good to be a fed.

  53. mikelotus says:

    if walmart is serious about changing their culture, given their abilities, they could become a powerful force for good. make a profit and make society better.

  54. polyeaster says:

    I’ll never use one of these clinics- they are not the standard of healthcare, and they are expensive.

  55. polyeaster says:

    PS When I went to the CVS minute clinic, my copay was the sameas for a doctor, and they were able to do much, much less than a real doc’s office would. Waste of time.

  56. mbz32190 says:

    Wal-Mart itself should have no bearing on these clinics…CVS, Rite Aid, and some grocery stores have been putting them in to. Wal-Mart just leases the space out (as it does for it’s portrait studio, optical, etc)

  57. Vicky says:

    I had a painful ear infection at the beginning of the year and it was a week’s wait to get an appointment with my doctor. I would have loved to have an option to pop into Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, or anywhere. All I needed was some penicillin.

  58. matto says:

    Upside: Martha Stewart IV Bag Stands

  59. Empire says:

    @Brad2723: Same here. I’m still trying to figure out how to go see my doctor M-F, 9am-4:30pm and still keep my M-F, 9am-5:30pm job that provides the health care in the first place. Didn’t Joseph Heller write a book about that?

  60. Woofer00 says:

    @quagmire0: “Hi Dr. Nick!”

    Does noone watch the Simpsons? That’s the quality of care you’d get imo.

  61. ninjatales says:

    Blue-vested Wal-Mart nurses with syringes and pills. Scary thought.

    That’s like having Bin Laden come over to nanny your kids.

  62. funkadelica says:

    “…and are able to administer treatment for common ailments such as runny noses and sore throats.”

    Because people can’t figure out how to buy cold medicine and aspirin in the Wal-Mart aisle and need a “doctor” to help them figure that out? Awesome.

  63. itonix says:

    I’m all for it. We need the McDonnalds version of health clinic. No brain surgery, but diagnosing streph throat or ear infection should not clog the real doctors. Plus they need to start competing on price.

  64. Infe says:

    I don’t know why so many people are gung ho to only see real doctors…in my experience, docs want to rush as quickly as possible, and usually slap a prescription of antibiotics at whatever ails you, needed or not.

    On top of that, it’s nigh impossible to get a same day appointment unless you really pester them, and if you do, you’re in for a couple hours wait. Even if you have a premade appointment, good luck getting out in 2 hours, even though the doc stays with you two minutes tops!

    The urgent care docs I’ve seen have rushed through too, but they’re sure a lot more convenient.

    Just today, we had to take our little girl to the doctor to look at a sore finger. They refused to give her shots she was scheduled to get just a few days from now, meaning we have to come back just for that.

    Now that’s customer oriented service!

  65. the_wiggle says:

    @fizzyg: god yes. i know my body & i know how it behaves – just gimmie the script already & quit making me wait til the UTI’s moved to the kidneys or the Sinus infection’s moved into my ears/throat, lungs.

    as for all those slamming RNP, I’ve always gotten better care with an RNP than any doctor. more time, more current, more accurate & more available.

    @mikelotus: one would hope.

  66. Canoehead says:

    Wouldn’t want it for brain surgery, but for a case of mild tonsolitis or other similar ailment, it seems like a good idea. Also, say you are concerned about your cholestorol and need to get tested on a fairly regular basis – it would be nice to be able to drop in on a Saturday while the spouse shops for TP and get the blood takem. Better than taking off 2 hours in the middle of the work day to sit in a waiting room surronded by contagious sick people.

    Buyer beware of course, but if this keeps the ERs from being clogged by kids with colds on the weekends when all “real” doctors are out golfing, then I am all for it.

  67. banmojo says:

    One gets what one pays for.

    eofm.

    ps. The American dream is still alive and kicking. Anyone in this country can become just about anything they set their mind and will power to. You get out of this life what you put into it. If you saw yourself 10 years ago getting your health care out of a fucking Walmart, then kudos, you’ve arrived.

  68. jenl1625 says:

    @ninjatales: But it’s not Wal-mart nurses. It’s Walmart providing a space, and the local medical partners providing nurse practioners.

    Fortunately, I now have a doctor who will get me in quickly if I need immediate help, but I used to be with an office that would respond to an “I need to see the doctor TODAY” with a “how ’bout in 3 days? No. Well, we can sqeeze you in to see the nurse practioner tomorrow . . . ” In that case, yeah – I’d go see the nurse practioner in the walmart today, and while it might not be any cheaper for me, I bet they charge the insurance less than the doctor visit.

  69. brodiec says:

    I’d like to thank Wal-Mart for providing an example of bad privatized health care that we here in Canada can point to when defending our public brand. Ironically we are defending it from the interests of, well, Wal-Mart and it’s private American health care provider partners.

    The whole concept of some sort of EZ value short wait time clinic is absurd. Your healthy is REALLY complicated, honest, and I don’t think there’s a posted price for finding out you have to go get a biopsy for possible cancer. And then you’re going to have to walk by some greeter smiling with their eyes on your bag. Just peachy.

  70. brodiec says:

    As for the RPN vs. MD debate: the answer is neither. When you have both, working as a team, you have the best quality of care. Keep the doctors available for diagnosis and have the RPNs doing the sanctioned procedures.

  71. HYPEractive says:

    As a Nurse, I’d like to explain what a Nurse Practitioner is because it seems to confuse some people.

    A Registered Nurse (RN), is a health care practitioner whose focus is on the care and management of a patient. A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice nurse with a masters degree that uses the Nursing foundation of hollistic-patient care, and adds advanced training in clinical assessment, diagnoses, pharmacology, physiology, pathology, etc., to add an additional level to the Nursing Model of patient care.

    In the 1960s There weren’t enough Physicians willing to practice in the South Bronx. Physicians at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine began training Nurses with advanced clinical skills to treat these patients. This is how the NP was born.

    NPs are highly trained in patient care. Just like primary care Physicans, an NP will recognize when referral to a Specialist is necessary. Because the Nursing Model of Care is the foundation of a Nurse Practioner practice, emphasis is put on communication, education, and treating the whole person… not just the symptoms.

    Here is a link to a 2-year randomized study comparing comparing outcomes of patients assigned to a nurse practitioner or a physician in a primary care practice. In the sample of 406 adults, **no differences** were found between the groups in health status, disease-specific physiologic measures, satisfaction or use of specialist, emergency room or inpatient services.

    [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

    I hope this clears some things up.

    -Art

  72. Boberto says:

    I think this is great. Some healthcare is certainly better than none.

    The big question is, what about follow up? Will these NP’s schedule or even attempt to see a Patient for re-evaluation? Also, will one of these Care Providers sit on hold for 45 minutes trying report suspicion of child/elder abuse? Will they call an ambulance for a suspected MI? All remain to be seen.

    The potential of this delivery system has HUGE profit potential via referral business to therapies, medical equipment vendors etc.