Walmart signals plans to offer telehealth in 16 more states
The medical group for Walmart Health has filed paperwork to do business in more than a dozen more states – a spokesperson told Insider that the moves are not related to physical clinics.
Instead, the preparation regards the retail giant’s pending acquisition of telehealth vendor MeMD earlier this year.
“We’ve expressed our interest in offering telehealth via an acquisition that is pending regulatory clearance, these filings are related to that effort, not physical Walmart Health locations,” a Walmart spokesperson said to Insider‘s Shelby Livingston.
WHY IT MATTERS
Walmart Health’s moves in this direction echo that of Amazon Care, which quietly filed to do business in dozens of states before publicly announcing its intention to provide app-based services in all 50 by this summer.
First, Walmart has rolled out in-person clinics that offer a range of services including primary care, optometry, dental hearing in Arkansas, Georgia Illinois.
As Livingston notes, it also plans to expinto Florida this year.
The latest filings, however, are reportedly not related to physical clinics.
Instead, as the spokesperson said, they are related to Walmart’s interest in offering telehealth.
Livingston found that MC Medical LLC, Walmart Health’s primary care provider, has registered to operate in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont Washington.
THE LARGER TREND
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a “gold rush” in telehealth, with a combination of relaxed regulations social distancing leading to an enormous uptick in virtual care use rates – and, in turn, heightened corporate interest in the modality.
But the future is a bit murkier, with many experts saying that federal action is needed to sustain even a fraction of that momentum.
Advocates at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference warned this past week that legislators need to step up.
“If Congress does not act before the public health emergency ends, regulatory flexibilities that now ensure all Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to telehealth will go away,” said Kyle Zebley, director of public policy at the ATA.
ON THE RECORD
“Telehealth offers a great opportunity to expaccess reach consumers where they are complements our brick-and-mortar Walmart Health locations,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, the executive vice president of Health Wellness at Walmart, in a statement regarding the MeMD acquisition this past month.
“Today people expect omnichannel access to care adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person digital care across our multiple assets solutions,” Pegus added.