Getting a complete picture of health care disruptors’ strategies and execution goals is never easy. Information tends to drip out, often generating as many questions as answers. Over the past couple of months, however, interesting news and insights have surfaced from Walmart and Amazon executives. Here is a rundown on what they shared.
Walmart Hones Its Health Care Focus
1. Management reshaping continues.
The retail giant recently made another significant change to its health market management team as it refines its retail clinic offerings, including plans for four Florida locations later this year. Marcus Osborne, senior vice president of Walmart Health and who led its medical clinics initiative, has left the company. He was the last of five executives who originally spearheaded the retailer’s health clinics design to leave Walmart, Business Insider reports.
2. Increasing primary care access.
Cheryl Pegus, M.D., Walmart’s executive vice president of health and wellness, has brought together a new management team as the company refines its market vision. The company will focus on making it easier for Walmart associates and customers to access primary, dental and vision care in person and through its national telehealth network facilitated via its acquisition of MeMD last May. Offering Saturday and Sunday appointments, telebehavioral health and teen-focused services are just a few ways Walmart plans to differentiate itself, Pegus said in a recent Modern Healthcare interview. She adds that Walmart’s Net Promoter Scores have been in the 80s.
3. Partnering on chronic conditions.
To better address the needs of patients with prediabetes, Walmart has partnered with Chicago-based HabitNu, which trains Walmart’s community health workers at two of its stores to teach patients about disease prevention, set weight management goals and provide support. Launched in 2021, the program has an 80% retention rate and provides patients with information on personal diet, exercise, how to afford medications and more, Pegus says. Walmart also is partnering with the Elton John AIDS Foundation to increase access to care and help patients understand early treatment options. In Atlanta, Walmart pharmacists in some locations are offering AIDS tests in parking lots and helping patients understand risk factors.
Amazon Hints at Physician Strategy
1. Designing the best place for physicians to practice.
Amazon has been relatively tight-lipped about its Amazon Care program, which offers virtual care across the country and in-person care in select cities through employer health plans. In a recent presentation and subsequent interview, Sunita Mishra, M.D., medical director for Care Medical, Amazon Care’s delivery arm, said the company is focusing on creating the best place for physicians to practice and increasing access to care. She stressed that Amazon is not looking to take over health care but to raise the bar for what consumers deserve — primarily targeting consumers who do not see a primary care physician at least once a year. She also mentioned that Amazon is open to expanding into more specialty services.
2. Ramping up physician recruitment.
Although Mishra would not disclose how many physicians Care Medical employs, she says the company is growing rapidly. The company looks for doctors who are interested in practicing in different ways. One way Care Medical does that is by allowing clinicians to visit patients’ home environments to evaluate their diets, possible allergens and social factors influencing health. Amazon also appears to be strengthening its management bench, recently posting a job listing for a physician to help lead its health care team. The company is seeking a physician experienced in analytics, telemedicine and medical imaging. The successful candidate also will drive thought leadership and speak at health care events.
3. Building partnerships.
Amazon is looking to create partnerships with health care providers. To fulfill that aim, the company recently rehired Aaron Martin, who was with Amazon before becoming chief digital officer at Washington-based Providence. Martin, who also headed Providence health system’s venture capital arm, will now serve as vice president of health for Amazon.