Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wal-Mart and Your Health Care


It’s just a matter of time. As you exit your local Wal-Mart or SuperWalmart notice the Optometrist and the Optical Shop.

Fairly soon you may also see ‘The Medical Clinic”adjacent to the ‘eye department’ with Dr Joe Smith’s name plate inserted in a sliding name holder.

Wal-Mart wants to be the nation’s largest primary care provider. And no doubt, unless the public refuses to use it, that will come about.

At the moment it is easy enough to  walk into any Rite Aid or CVS pharmacy to obtain flu inoculations. They will even bill your insurance. The CVS Urgent care clinic has a better EMR than many primary care physicians.

Have you noticed when calling for a prescription from Rite Aid the telephone voice tree gets in a ten second spot announcement for it’s lineup of immunizations. I have even had an automated telemarketing machine call me at home to get a flu shot scheduled at CVS soon.

Wal-Mart's public comments revolve around lowering their own employees health expenses.  We used to do that in “occupational health”, an internal department of most industries.

“Analysts said Wal-Mart is likely positioning itself to boost store traffic – possibly by expanding the number of, and services offered by, its in-store medical clinics. The move would also capitalize on growing demand for primary care in 2014, when the federal health law fully kicks in and millions more Americans are expected to have government or private health insurance.”, so says Julie Appleby and Sarah Varney in The Health Care Blog

Wal-Mart distributed an RFI (Request for Information) recently to determine how vendors could be used to lower health care costs. Wal-Mart's request goes even further, asking possible partners to provide information on how they would oversee patients with complicated chronic conditions, including asthma, HIV, arthritis, depression and sleep apnea.

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