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Healthcare in Aisle Eight?

Posted By Holly A. Koofer-Thompson, Friday, August 29, 2014

Walmart Opens Clinics Catering to Need for Mass Medical Care

Walmart has dubbed itself as the retailer that can “save people money so they can live better.” The saving part is evident in their price match guarantees, rollbacks and discounted goods ranging from groceries to household plants and everything in between. But, something new has been added to their repertoire  – healthcare. In April, the nation’s largest retailer – that brought in approximately $473 billion in fiscal year 2014 and employs more than 2 million associates worldwide – opened six care clinics, with six more planned by the end of the year.


According to an article posted in Medical Economics on Aug. 14, “with 4,200 stores across the United States, the retail giant is poised to capitalize on growing opportunities resulting from the Affordable Care Act and fill a need in Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs).”


If Walmart is getting into the business of providing healthcare to the masses, the question should be raised: Would doctors be willing to work for the big box retailer?


Kevin Hubbard, D.O., FACOI, of Kansas City, a professor and chair of internal medicine at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences - College of Osteopathic Medicine, shared his thoughts on the topic:


“If Walmart offered to pay off student debt as a requisite for a physician joining up for a 4-8 year commitment after completing a residency, how many graduating medical students would take the offer? Remember, this represents guaranteed employment and loan forgiveness!


Would the federal government be willing to extend itself to a graduate who is willing to work at a Walmart located in a medically underserved area? How would Walmart choose to restructure its clinics to suit the needs of the Patient-Centered Medical Home? Think of a team of people (physician, physician extender, social worker, dietician, etc.) all employed by a Walmart partnering with patients to help them make better choices regarding preventative services, food/meal selections, exercise options, etc.


Back to the question, would doctors be willing to work for Walmart, after careful consideration, I think Walmart could potentially be in a position to be an impact player in many Missouri communities. Whether that's a good or a bad thing has yet to be seen. Although it feels bad to me at this point, I can also see where they have the opportunity to be a contributor!”


Do you agree with Dr. Hubbard? Share your point of view in the comment section below! If you’re currently a medical student, did you ever envision yourself working at Walmart after medical school?


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