Walmart's key healthcare moves in 2020: A timeline

In the last year, Walmart has deepened its presence in healthcare with new primary care clinics, expanded telehealth services and a new insurance arm. 

Below are some of Walmart's key healthcare moves since Jan. 1, as reported by Becker's Hospital Review. 

Jan. 1: Walmart announces it is expanding benefits available through its telehealth program, which offers $4 virtual care visits via Doctor on Demand's platform. Employees in Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin can now access the program.  

Jan. 15: Walmart says it has opened its second freestanding health clinic, Walmart Health, in Calhoun, Ga. The first location opened Sept. 13, 2019, in Dallas, Ga. The clinics offer patients $30 medical checkups, $25 teeth cleanings and access to a mental health counselor for $1 per minute. Prices for these services are listed on bright digital billboards in the waiting room of the clinics.

Feb. 25: Sean Slovenski, Walmart's former president of health and wellness, says the number of patients who have visited the health centers in Georgia has surpassed expectations. While he would not reveal the number of patients, he said that volume is "substantially higher than our expectations." The Walmart Health model is attractive to patients because it lowers the cost of delivering health services by about 40 percent while eliminating "administrative baloney," he says.

March 2: Walmart and Verizon Communications are in talks to put 5G wireless service in select locations over the next year to improve digital health services, reports say

June 15: Walmart says it is buying prescription drug management technology from startup CareZone. The technology allows patients to scan insurance cards and prescription drug labels to help them determine which drugs are covered by their health plan.

June 15: HHS announces that Walmart is donating its dispensing services to help expand access to HIV prevention drugs, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis medications. The program allows uninsured patients to fill their prescriptions at no cost at Walmart pharmacies. 

June 17: Walmart opens its third Walmart Health clinic location in Loganville, Ga. Walmart said it believes that expanding the standalone clinics will help bring affordable, quality healthcare to more Americans, because 90 percent of them live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. 

June 24: Walmart expands its Walmart Health clinics into Arkansas. The company opens its first Walmart Health location in Springdale, Ark. This is the fourth Walmart Health clinic to open.

June 30: Humana announces it has entered into a partnership with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics to help expand COVID-19 testing for its members. Humana says it expects to open about 500 testing locations at Walmart pharmacies. 

July 7: Becker's reports that Walmart plans to launch a Medicare insurance agency, according to job postings on Walmart's Careers website. According to the postings, which seek Medicare sales managers and insurance agents, "Walmart now has an insurance agency" that operates as Walmart Insurance Services. The postings seek "health insurance professionals to help us build this new business from the ground up and achieve our mission." The jobs are in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area. 

July 14: The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to ramp up its telehealth services at Walmart locations nationwide after the coronavirus pandemic winds down. 

July 22: Walmart Health announces plans to expand its standalone health clinic model into Florida and Illinois. Walmart says it will open health clinics in Florida in 2021, focusing first on the Jacksonville area. Walmart also says the company is  planning two locations in Chicago. 

July 23: Walmart begins notifying patients who use its pharmacy services about data incidents that may have exposed their protected information. Walmart says that some pharmacies were broken into and individuals stole medications and other materials, which included patient information printed on packages, labels and other related documents. Patient data exposed during the incidents included names, addresses, phone numbers, medication names and strengths, prescription numbers and names, and fill dates.Walmart did not reveal how many people were affected by the data incident. 

July 24: CNBC reports that Walmart plans to open at least six more health clinics in the Atlanta region. Walmart locations in Georgia would be in the cities of Newnan, Fayetteville, McDonough, Cartersville, Marietta and Woodstock.

Aug. 5: News breaks that an executive leading Walmart's healthcare push, Sean Slovenski, plans to leave the company. Mr. Slovenski, who served as the senior vice president and president of health and wellness for Walmart, joined the company in 2018. He was in charge of implementing new healthcare programs, including Walmart's standalone healthcare clinics, Walmart Health. Mr. Slovenski left to join medical testing company BioIQ as its new CEO.

Aug. 27: Walmart Health officially files a plan for a standalone clinic in Middleburg, Fla.. The new clinic is part of the expansion Walmart Health announced July 22. 

Sept. 1: Chicago-based Oak Street Health, a network of primary care centers, announces it is teaming up with Walmart to open clinics at three of the retail giant's supercenters in Texas. 

Sept. 2: Walmart Health opens its fifth standalone health clinic in Newnan, Ga. The clinics offer primary care, imaging, lab, dental and behavioral health services to consumers at low prices, regardless of insurance. The new Georgia location will also have a physical therapy practice next to the standalone clinic. Walmart Health said in a news release that this is the first clinic that will have such a facility next to it.

Sept. 16: Walmart Health opens its sixth location in Cartersville, Ga.

Sept. 17: Walmart Health announces in a company blog post it will open 16 more standalone health clinics by the end of 2021. The company says it plans to open seven more Walmart Health locations in Georgia, two clinics in Chicago and seven in the Jacksonville, Fla., market.

Oct. 1: Walmart announces it is partnering with Medicare Advantage insurer Clover Health on its first health insurance plans. They will be available to half a million people in  eight Georgia counties. 

Oct. 6: Lori Flees, senior vice president and COO of Walmart Health, officially launches Walmart Insurance Services. Walmart says it will sell Medicare insurance plans during the open enrollment period, from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. It will provide Medicare products, including Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. The products will be offered by Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, WellCare, Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. More insurers may be added. 

Nov. 20: Two Walmart Health centers open in Chicago next to newly remodeled Walmart supercenters. 

Nov. 30: Walmart announces that Cheryl Pegus, MD, will lead Walmart's healthcare division as executive vice president of health and wellness, effective Dec. 21.

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