2 hospital CIOs on why Walmart is healthcare's biggest retail disruptor

Walmart has been deepening its presence in the healthcare industry in the past few years through various initiatives, including opening health clinics, offering diagnostic testing and expanding pharmacy programs.

The company's increasing visibility in the healthcare sector has garnered attention from hospital executives across the country. Jason Joseph, CIO of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health, said Walmart is the retail giant he has his eye on most when it comes to disrupting the healthcare industry. He believes its model, which focuses on affordability and convenience, is appealing to healthcare consumers.

"They have targeted primary care and retail-type health services, which fits nicely with their strengths — low cost and simple, transparent pricing," Mr. Joseph said.

Walmart is also a formidable retail disruptor in the eyes of Zafar Chaudry, MD, vice president and CIO of Seattle Children's Hospital. He said the company's push to make primary care more accessible could lead to better health outcomes among Americans. 

He noted that countries such as the United Kingdom and France, which have primary care-centric healthcare systems, boast better health outcomes and much lower costs per patient when compared to the U.S.

"I can see their capabilities scaling with developing markets because of their retail exposure in the remotest of communities," Dr. Chaudry said. "I'm a true believer that giving consumers low cost, better and expanded access to primary and urgent care will lead to better community access, reduced hospital admissions and therefore, lower healthcare costs."

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