Clinic consultation

Wesley Chapel Walmart is the first in Tampa Bay to have a health clinic

WESLEY CHAPEL – Walmart may not be the first name that comes to mind when it comes to healthcare, but it has set up vaccines, vision centers and pharmacies as part of its experience in health care. ‘purchase.

Now the retail giant is set to take a bolder step into Florida’s healthcare market with the opening of five health centers in stores across the state, including one on the State Road 54 at Wesley Chapel. Plans are underway to open another in Brandon.

Under the Walmart Health brand, the centers offer primary care, laboratory, X-ray and EKG services. Behavioral health and counseling services are also available, as well as dental, optical and hearing specialists. Clinics, typically around 6,500 square feet, have separate entrances in addition to a store entrance.

Walmart has already tested the concept with 24 centers operating in Arkansas, Illinois and Georgia. Its first Florida centers opened in Jacksonville and Orlando in April.

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While some retailers like CVS and Walgreens have expanded in-store healthcare as a way to increase foot traffic, Walmart characterizes its market entry as a way to improve the lives of its customers, especially in rural communities. where access is limited. , said David Carmouche, senior vice president of omnichannel care offerings at Walmart. In many of these communities, the local supercentre is a community hub.

“When we talk to our clients about pain points in their lives, healthcare is one of them,” he said. “Walmart doesn’t need health care to attract people to its stores. It’s really a service offering.

An x-ray machine at the new Walmart Health Center at the Wesley Chapel Walmart Supercenter. [ Walmart ]

Walmart sees Florida as an ideal market for the company.

The state’s population is expected to grow by 7 million between 2020 and 2040, according to a study by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. This will make it difficult to deliver health care across the state, especially in less populated areas, Carmouche said. Walmart has approximately 380 stores across the state.

Nationwide, 90% of the population is within 10 miles of a Walmart, with 4,000 stores in areas that the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has designated as medically underserved areas.

“Throughout Florida and much of the country, Walmart supercenters are at the intersection of where people live, but health services aren’t necessarily available.” said Carmouche. “We believe we have a role to play.”

But this decision may also make business sense in the wake of a pandemic. A 2021 AlixPartners survey of health and wellness in six major global markets, including the United States, found that half of consumers believe a healthy lifestyle has become more important over the past year .

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To compete with conventional clinics, Walmart emphasizes affordability and convenience. The centers are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. A telehealth service is available on Sundays.

The centers will be “in-network” to most major health insurers and they accept Medicare and Medicaid. There is also an effort to help those who are uninsured with lower prices, Carmouche said.

Prices are posted on the wall in the clinic lobby. An illness or injury visit or an annual examination costs $90. An eye exam costs $85 and a dental exam for a new patient costs $40.

The clinics will be staffed with board-certified healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses and dentists who are employed by healthcare companies with which Walmart partners. Walmart also employs community health workers at centers to advise customers on available services and other forms of assistance.

Carmouche said centers already open in Florida have proven popular even without significant marketing. Centers already operating in other states are seeing a high rate of profitability, he said.

“We didn’t know if people would want to have healthcare services at a Walmart clinic and they did,” he said. “We feel like we’re offering a good product.”