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Giant Retailer Wal-Mart Walks Into Risky Clinic Business

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 07, 2008 12:04 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Drug Products, Managed Care and Insurance Companies

Wal-Mart has plans to open 400 walk-in clinics in the next two years even though there is not a good business model yet.


Little Rock, Arkansas will host the first medical care walk-in clinic inside a Wal-Mart that is owned and operated by the giant retailer.

Atlanta and Dallas are next in line for The Clinic at Wal-Mart walk-in centers. The plan is to have 400 walk-in clinics in two years.

The Clinic at Wal-Mart will be patterned after the RediClinic, a chain of walk-in clinics that already outlet inside 13 Wal-Marts in three states. The company will partner in half of the new clinics.

Aligning with local hospitals, the clinics will be run by "licensed, certified providers" who can diagnose, treat and prescribe. 

For example, in Arkansas, a nurse practitioner employed by the St. Vincent Health System will be able to treat you for a sore throat, sinus infection or earache. You can also receive a health screening, test, vaccination and basic physical. 

The clinics operated by RediClinic will accept health insurance plans from Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others.  

Wal-Mart tells the New York Times that half of the patients at the in-store clinics do not have health insurance, part of the 47 million Americans with no coverage.  

The future of health care is predicted to be delivered in smaller venues, perhaps as more individuals have access to health care. A growing industry drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens already offer about 700 walk-in medical clinics.

Predicting huge profits from some form of universal health care, the RediClinics are part of Revolution Health, a company started by Steven Case co-founder of AOL.  

The new business venture is something Wal-Mart is counting on but whether it will generate mega-profits is unproven.  Last month, clinic operator CheckUps ran out of money and closed 23 Wal-Mart clinics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is opposed to the walk-in at giant retailers saying they fragment the health care system.  

While the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians want to be involved in coordinating with the clinic's practice such as sending medical record to primary doctors and finding doctors for those who don’t have one.   #


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