Major Retailer Proposes Bold Capitalization on Healthcare Delivery

November 9, 2011
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Posted in CorporateHealthcare Policy & The MediaScience & Research

Posted in CorporateHealthcare Policy & The MediaScience & Research

Could retail be the solution to comprehensive healthcare delivery? Well, if big-box retailer Walmart has anything to say about it — then, bring it on! Stretching the idea of retail minute clinics to extremely absurd heights, the retailer wants to partner with other entities to increase care access ahead of the tsunami of increased coverage sure to occur once reform kicks in a couple of years from now. It lays out its plans in a 14-page Request for Information [PDF].

In-store medical clinics, such as those offered by Walmart and other retailers, could also be players in another effort in the health law: encouraging collaborations of doctors and hospitals who want to win financial rewards for streamlining care and lowering costs. Such collaborations, known as “accountable care organizations,” might contract with in-store medical clinics, says Paul Howard, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

The other entities, sometimes labeled as “vendors” in Walmart’s RFI, appear to be (healthcare) organizations which have the potential to collaborate on best practices for many chronic conditions — enabling the partner vendor to benefit in terms of quality, accountability, delivery of healthcare services in order to maximize their bottom lines.

This mode of healthcare delivery raises concerns, to be sure. Could we be seeing an entirely new way of the delivery of healthcare as a pure commodity to be negotiated and priced like any other product? Will it encourage other major national retailers to follow suit? What will this do to the traditional model of healthcare organizational delivery of primary care? Will it enhance it? Will it make it more accountable to third parties? How will this model benefit insurance companies’ approach to premiums in an altered delivery marketplace? Quite an interesting development in the ongoing saga of the cost of healthcare in this country. | LINK

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