In an attempt to lower cost and improve quality, Walmart on Jan. 1 will launch a “featured providers” pilot to incentivize workers to choose higher-quality physicians. Workers who opt for the featured providers program will pay less out of pocket. If successful, the program will expand.
Walmart is working with Embold Health, a Nashville startup that uses data from public and private insurance programs to analyze whether doctors provide “appropriate, effective and cost-efficient care.” Once it has synthesized the data, Embold Health creates reports on individual physicians. Data for the Walmart pilot will focus on eight areas: primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics and pulmonology.
Walmart’s long-planned program initially will be available to 60,000 Walmart employees in northwest Arkansas, Orlando/Tampa, Fla., and Dallas/Fort Worth. It is one of several new or expanded Walmart initiatives to improve quality of care and cut costs. In Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Walmart is expanding its voluntary telehealth offering to include preventive health, chronic care management, urgent care and behavioral health for workers.
Walmart also will be testing the Personal Healthcare Assistant, a concierge service to help workers find a high-quality provider, book appointments and get answers about billing, understand a diagnosis and address other complex questions. The service also helps coordinate transportation and find child care during appointments.