Walmart enters primary care

The world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, is taking a bigger step into the healthcare space by opening up a primary care clinic called Walmart Health located in Georgia. The news was first reported by CNBC.

The concept, in its pilot test with one clinic, offers primary care services, dental, counseling, labs, X-rays and audiology. Walmart could potentially expand the clinic concept elsewhere, according to CNBC. The retail giant has since added a link for a Walmart Health location on its website and launched a new website that schedules appointments at the clinic starting Sept. 13.

The move is largely seen as a defensive maneuver against CVS Health, which is expanding its HealthHub concept, which debuted as a pilot test in Houston and aimed to become a health hub for residents in the community to receive care and healthcare services for chronic conditions as well as new digital tools to manage health and wellness.

While CVS is rapidly extending its reach as a provider of healthcare services within its retail locations, consumers are more split on how they feel about receiving care from the company. The company is also still completing its integration with Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurer, after CVS acquired the company for $69 billion late last year. However, the merger is also facing a court review that still leaves some uncertainty for the fate of the merger.

Walmart’s latest move is one of its biggest yet into healthcare, though it is already one of the nation’s largest pharmacy companies. The company was rumored to be considering an acquisition of insurance giant Humana last year, but a deal never produced. The company recently partnered with a health analytics company to bring high-quality imaging care to employees under its insurance plan, and it has kept its focus on Medicare Advantage enrollees in an effort to stave off Amazon’s ever-creeping interest in the pharmacy and healthcare space.

“Walmart is committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities we serve,” said a Walmart spokesperson. “The new Walmart Health center in our Dallas, Georgia, store will provide low, transparent pricing for key health services for local customers. We look forward to sharing more details when the facility opens next month.”