December 9, 2023

Healthcare Global

Splash Healthcare Global All Over

Issue No. 225: Everywhere Care

From wellness clinics to doctor visits, retailers are all-in on healthcare.

All-Time Low

Expensive yet ineffective, the US healthcare system continues to disappoint.

  • Less than half of Americans rate the quality of US healthcare as “excellent” or “good.”
  • Inequities in the US health system cost $320B annually and could reach $1T/yr by 2040.
  • Among developed nations, Americans are the least likely to have a regular physician or place of care.

Reversing this trend, a global report from The Commonwealth Fund said increasing access, ensuring affordability, and preventing chronic conditions are top priorities.

Pursuing those goals, digital health startups have raised billions of dollars to disrupt the status quo. But telehealth visits are only part of the equation.

In an effort to meet people where they are, retailers, pharmacies, and grocery stores are leveraging tech to own “healthcare’s front door.”


Bolstered by the pandemic, telehealth adoption reached 80% in 2022.

But, most patients still prefer in-person care for managing mental health, chronic conditions, wellness exams, and more.

Moving in, retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Albertsons want to boost profits and health outcomes by creating alternative care sites. Their timing couldn’t be better.

Consumerism has taken hold. With increased access to information and technology, consumers are demanding better-quality care at lower costs.

And care models are shifting. Moving from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement, more providers are doubling down on convenient, preventative, and vertically integrated care models.

Along those lines, by 2030, Bain & Company expects 30% of primary care to be delivered by nontraditional providers — with retailers accounting for 5–10% of patients.

One-Stop Shop

With thousands of locations, reaching hundreds of millions of customers each week, retailers want to be a one-stop shop for everything — including healthcare.

  • Walmart. By 2024, the big-box store plans to operate 75 health clinics across the US.
  • CVS. In January, CVS bought Medicare-focused clinic Oak Street Health for $10.6B after paying $8B for home care provider Signify Health last fall.
  • Walgreens. Pivoting from prescriptions to primary care, Walgreens-backed VillageMD is expanding and recently acquired Summit Health+CityMD’s clinics for $8.9B.
  • Dollar General. As part of its DG Wellbeing initiative, the company is stocking more health-related products and opening mobile care clinics with DocGo.

Elsewhere… With 40% of shoppers willing to share health insights to receive personalized food recommendations, Albertsons launched a wellness app, uniting wearable data, nutrition, telehealth, and more.

Meanwhile, tech titan Amazon added brick-and-mortar clinics to its healthcare arsenal with the $3.9B purchase of primary care provider One Medical.

Experience. The goal, according to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, is rooted in the company’s customer obsession:

“We believe we can make the healthcare experience easier, faster, more personal, and more convenient for everyone.”

Integration. Another approach, CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch is betting on the integration of insurance, prescriptions, clinics, and more:

“I want you to think about CVS Health first because we have that entire continuum of care to support you in that journey of health.”

Location. Yet another path, because 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart and 75% within five miles of a Dollar General, these retailers are uniquely positioned to increase access among underserved communities, particularly in rural areas.

Looking ahead: Healthcare is big business, and retailers want a slice of the trillion-dollar pie. Still, the idea of selling candy and cigarettes up front while filling prescriptions and conducting exams in the back sends a mixed message. Easier said than done, the winners have to inspire trust and deliver results in order to turn shoppers into patients.