Walmart increasingly comparing physicians over cost: 5 things to know

Retail giant Walmart is upping its efforts to hand-pick which physicians are most likely to reduce healthcare spending on employees, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Five things to know:

1. Large companies like Walmart are examining data from public records and their own health plans, and tapping consultants, to compare individual physician costs.

2. The top physicians Walmart chooses sport the best results at the most competitive costs. The company excludes or shies away from others with poor performance metrics.

3. More than 5,000 Walmart health plan members have visited hand-selected physicians. The company's health plan covers travel and medical costs to pair employees with these top physicians for procedures like surgery and cancer care.

4. Lisa Woods, senior director of U.S. healthcare at Walmart, told WSJ that the results from choosing top physicians have made the strategy vital. While health plans have narrowed provider networks for their plans, the selection has largely focused on hospitals and physician groups rather than specific physicians.

5. The efforts are paying off for retailers: Walmart, Lowe's and McKesson Corp. saved about $19.4 million in 2017 when their employees saw specific spine and joint surgeons picked by the employers, according to the Harvard Business Review.

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