What’s in Store: Retail Giants Expand Offerings with New Health Clinics

What’s in Store: Retail Giants Expand Offerings with New Health Clinics

Retail healthcare is having another “moment” with the recent announcements that both Amazon and Walmart are rolling out primary care clinics with consumer convenience in mind.

Amazon’s entry to the market, Amazon Care, is a “virtual” clinic that combines elements of telemedicine (e.g., remote video consults, options to text message with nurses and physicians) with in-person visits to the patient’s home. Currently, Amazon Care is only being offered as a benefit to Amazon employees living in the Seattle, WA, area. It offers courier delivery of prescription medications and is intended to address issues such as colds, allergies, infections, minor injuries, preventive health consults, vaccines, lab work, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, and general health questions, according to Fierce Healthcare. This care is delivered through a third-party partner to alleviate Amazon employee worries that their employer has access to their protected health information (PHI).

Walmart, which already operates 19 Care Clinics inside Walmart stores, recently opened Walmart Health, a 10,000-square-foot health “super center” in Dallas, GA, with primary care services such as dental, optometry, counseling, laboratory tests, X-rays, hearing, wellness education, and behavioral health, Forbes reported.

While these models are limited in number and scale, they’ll be competing with retail clinics such as the CVS Minute Clinics and the Walgreens Village Medical on-site clinics. One unknown element about these models, for health information management professionals at least, is how well they’ll be able to manage patient data and HIPAA compliance without the help of a larger healthcare organization. When Don Rucker, MD, who leads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, spoke to the Journal (see page 15 of the November-December 2019 issue), he mentioned a vision for health IT where looking at one’s medical records is as easy as shopping on Amazon. It’s not clear if these retail settings are what he had in mind, but they do appear to be the future—for some.

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