The changing dynamics for retail healthcare disruptors

Retail healthcare disruptors' fortunes have been heading in different directions lately.

While Walmart is expanding its healthcare centers and CVS is adding Oak Street Health clinics, Walgreens is moving the opposite way, closing dozens of VillageMD practices.

Walmart is opening 22 health centers in 2024. While adding fewer locations than originally planned (four in Oklahoma have been put on hold) and delaying others (six in Arizona are being built a few months later for construction reasons), the company's retail healthcare arm is growing.

"I think what we've recognized from the beginning is it's hard," David Carmouche, MD, senior vice president of healthcare delivery for Walmart, told the Houston Chronicle. "We'd rather be a little bit more pragmatic, learn, develop something that works, and then once we have that, then scale it."

CVS is moving ahead with plans to build dozens of Oak Street Health's senior-focused primary care clinics near its pharmacies after buying the company in 2023 for $10.6 billion. This is despite a move by the company to cut $700 million to $800 million in costs this year.

Walgreens, meanwhile, is shuttering 160 VillageMD practices. The pharmacy giant bought a majority stake in the primary care company in 2021 for $5.2 billion, but it has since been devalued and is part of Walgreens' strategy to cut $1 billion in costs this year.

Amazon laid off some employees and closed some corporate offices at One Medical, the hybrid primary care company it bought in 2023 for $3.9 billion, but it doesn't appear to have affected its clinic strategy. One Medical has more than 200 clinics, with plans to expand to Milwaukee and New Jersey, and has increased its health system partnerships since Amazon took over.

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