Why Walmart isn't partnering with hospitals — yet

Unlike other healthcare disruptors, Walmart isn't partnering with hospitals and health systems. At least not yet.

Walmart Health, which has more than 45 healthcare centers in five states, is still strategizing how it will handle specialty care referrals, according to Claude Pirtle, MD, its inaugural chief medical informatics officer. The clinics offer primary, dental and behavioral care.

"It's in discussions," Dr. Pirtle told Becker's. "People are going to need a cardiologist, they're going to need a neurologist, they're going to need that type of care. So we're mapping that out. I think we'll know in the next number of months. We're thinking about it, but nothing official is on the docket."

Amazon's One Medical and CVS Health's MinuteClinic both strike specialty referral agreements with health systems in local markets. One Medical has 17 such partners, while CVS has 49.

Like Amazon did when it bought One Medical, Walmart could also pick up hospital partners via an acquisition. The retailer has reportedly been in talks to purchase a multibillion-dollar, majority stake in primary care disruptor ChenMed, which has more than 125 clinics serving Medicare Advantage patients across 15 states.

That company, for instance, collaborates with OhioHealth on a group of senior-focused practices in the Columbus-based health system's market.

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