Walmart Health has ‘bold ambitions’ to ramp up expansion into imaging and other care

After a successful first year dabbling in healthcare, Walmart Health has “bold ambitions” to further expand its footprint in imaging and other services, the retail giant said Thursday.

Sept. 17 marked the one-year anniversary of the Arkansas-based company opening its first health hub in Dallas, Georgia. Since then, Walmart has expanded to six such locations—offering numerous services including x-rays and diagnostics—with the latest arriving Sept. 16 in Cartersville, Georgia.

The experiment has gone well, and company officials are now eyeing rapid expansion, recently inking a partnership with medical module maker Blox to launch centers more quickly. They’re already planning to open two Walmart Health locations in the Chicago area this fall, seven more in Georgia by the end of the fiscal year, and another seven in the Jacksonville, Florida, area in 2021. And conversations are underway for further expansion in Orlando and Tampa, said Lori Flees, senior VP and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness.

“Our experience this year has made two things clear: Walmart Health is having a real impact on increasing access to care in our communities, and there are more neighbors who need our help,” Flees said a Sept. 17 announcement. “The past few months in particular have exposed the vulnerabilities of our healthcare system and left many without access to adequate health resources. We know our customers need us now more than ever, which is why we’re announcing an expansion of Walmart Health today.”

Flees further noted that the Blox partnership will allow Walmart to more efficiently scale its healthcare model while requiring fewer resources. The recently opened center in Newnan, Georgia, is the first such center built using the new construction method.

Survey data from Walmart Health’s first year has also proven positive, Flees added. More than 50% of visits were booked by returning patients, and 96% said they “felt cared for” and had their needs met during the encounter. About half of visits were for primary care, with the other half were for specialty services including optometry, dental and behavioral health. Primary care at the very first location is seeing a shift toward the management of chronic conditions, “as the patient population responds to the quality and convenient care offered at Walmart Health.”

“Our goal is to help patients proactively manage their health through preventive care, and we’re pleased with the response so far,” Flees concluded. “We’re so proud of what we started in Dallas, Georgia, last year, and we have bold ambitions for how we will continue to expand healthcare access in the communities we serve.”