Walmart Introducing Tech-Based Associate Health Benefits
For the Walmart’s 2020 medical plan, the mega-retailer is testing some new concepts in select markets, with the aim of transforming health care for associates and their families, as did the company’s Centers of Excellence, which connects employees with top specialists for certain serious medical conditions and procedures.
In northwest Arkansas and the Orlando-Tampa and Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan areas, Walmart will pilot Featured Providers, a program that helps bring patients together local doctors with a demonstrated history of offering the most appropriate patient care. Instead of depending on word of mouth or social media to find a provider, patients can get information based on actual data and proven results.
Featured Providers is powered by Nashville, Tenn.-based Embold Health, which synthesizes a large amount of data from public and private insurance programs to create reports on individual physicians. The data covers eight specialties: primary care, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics and pulmonology. Walmart will use the data to curate a group of physicians with a track record of providing consistent quality care, and then provide the information to associates.
In North Carolina and South Carolina, meanwhile, Walmart will test the Personal Healthcare Assistant, which works via a website, phone number and app. Associates can use Healthcare Assistant in relation to a range of health issues, among them billing and appointments, but also to find a quality provider, understand a diagnosis and get answers to other complex questions. The assistant will also help with peripheral needs, which can include coordinating transportation and finding child care during appointments.
And in Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Walmart is expanding its telehealth service to encompass associates’ preventive health, chronic care management, urgent care and behavioral health. The voluntary program allows patients to video chat with a doctor from their own homes, and, if they choose, access a personal online doctor and an entire team to coordinate specialty care, receive nutritional and diabetic counseling, and arrange behavioral health referrals and visits. All video visits are $4. Associates can schedule an appointment with a primary care physician within an hour and a behavioral health visit within a week. Walmart created the new service by bringing together partners Doctor On Demand, Grand Rounds and HealthSCOPE Benefits.
“With thousands of stores, distribution centers and offices across America, Walmart’s associate population is diverse and varied,” wrote Elizabeth Walker, Walmart Corporate Affairs, in a blog post. With that in mind, [Senior Director of U.S. Benefits Lisa Woods] says trying a variety of approaches helps her team see what will work best at Walmart’s scale. This comes from a belief that once the quality is right, the cost savings will come along with it, both for the company and for associates.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.