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The big box retailer will pilot new programs designed to improve access to care and deliver better outcomes.
Walmart will pilot a suite of new services as part of its 2020 healthcare plan, including offering employees access to high-quality healthcare and promote better health and wellness.
“The new offerings are designed to make it easier for associates and their covered family members to identify and access quality healthcare locally,” according to a Walmart annual enrollment fact sheet.
Some of the new initiatives will initially be made available to associates in select markets. Among the new programs are:
• Featured Providers, which will help employees find highly rated doctors in local communities. Walmart will curate a group of local physicians in eight specialties (primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics, and pulmonology) based on independent-medical expert analysis of a large, comprehensive healthcare dataset to identify the factors that lead to high-quality care. Three aspects of three aspects of care delivery will be captured:
• Expanded Telehealth, which will enable associates to opt in to access a Personal Online Doctor and an entire team to manage chronic conditions, coordinate specialty care, provide nutritional and diabetic counseling, and coordinate behavioral health referrals and visits.
• Personal Healthcare Assistant, which will help employees identify quality physicians, serve as a single go-to source for all their healthcare-related needs, including billing questions, making an appointment, understanding a diagnosis and supporting more complex health needs, including access to clinical resources. It also helps with coordinating transportation and finding childcare during appointments.
• National Quality Provider Resource to help find in-network physicians providing quality care. When searching the app or website, those doctors providing high-quality care will appear at the top of the search results.
• Nationwide Fitness Club Access for any Walmart associate 18 years and older to access a health club membership at participating locations of the Tivity Health Prime Fitness Network. All membership levels include unlimited visits to any of the fitness locations in that level.
“With so many resources at our disposal, one might reasonably expect the U.S. to be at the vanguard of healthcare innovation and service delivery,” says Danielle Snow, SVP patient care, Grand Rounds, a health tech company that uses big data to match employees with doctors. Grand Rounds is powering two of the Walmart initiatives-the Nationwide Quality Network and the Personal Healthcare Assistant.
“The reality is, however, that employers face a hostile healthcare environment in the U.S. and they are running out of options. Hospitals raised prices a whopping 42% from 2007 to 2014, and more and more patients are delaying necessary care,” Snow says. “Additionally, many businesses now need to earmark R&D budgets to address these rising costs, stifling innovation. If something isn’t done, our healthcare system will be like a cresting wave that will come crashing down on all of us. Companies like Walmart know that, by focusing on quality, we can significantly reduce costs and improve patient health outcomes.”
These expanded programs help simplify healthcare, according to Snow.
“The pilot programs are designed to help Walmart’s associates better navigate a healthcare system that is overly complex, lacks transparency and provides unnecessary medical care, all of which can lead to poor clinical outcomes,” she says. These systemic issues are symptoms of a nasty web of problems that have gone unchecked for too long. Improving access to high-quality care saves lives, drives better outcomes, and creates lasting change.”