Walmart is accelerating its retail health care strategy with a key acquisition.
The retailer has acquired the intellectual property of CareZone, which includes an app that helps patients manage health information and access health services.
Walmart says the deal helps "lower the cost of health care for our 160 million customers who shop Walmart each week, while offering convenient options across multiple channels to help them manage their health and wellness." But the partnership also gives the company ammunition in the retail health arena, where competitors such as Amazon own online pharmacy PillPack.
According to a survey of U.S. customers conducted by Walmart's consumer insights team, cost is the top barrier to health care for 43% of Walmart shoppers, followed by convenience (27%) and access (22%). Additionally, 40% of those surveyed have delayed medical care.
"This is why Walmart is focused on delivering innovative solutions to increase access to affordable and convenient healthcare across our business," said Lori Flees, Senior Vice President, Health & Wellness, Sam’s Club, & Sean Slovenski, Senior Vice President, Health & Wellness, Walmart U.S. "It’s why we introduced our groundbreaking $4 prescription program years ago, and it’s why we recently launched Walmart Health in Georgia to offer key healthcare services at affordable prices."
In September of last year, Walmart opened its first freestanding health care clinic about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, promising to provide “low, transparent pricing” regardless of a patient’s insurance status.
"Members of CareZone’s product and technology team that built their app ... will help us innovate and integrate faster with Walmart’s existing systems," said Flees. "The technology and team members joining Walmart will augment our current Health & Wellness capabilities and support our focus on digital health care solutions. CareZone will remain a separate company unrelated to Walmart."
CareZone has developed a mobile app that helps individuals and families manage medicine and chronic illness for each member of the household. Families can use the app to scan labels or insurance cards to speed and simplify the process.
“The goal of any technology startup is to build a product or experience that touches the lives of as many people as possible,” said Walter Smith, co-founder and chief technology officer of CareZone. “Adding our technology platform to Walmart’s existing digital capabilities and physical reach creates a unique opportunity to redefine what the future of digital health and wellness can look like. The CareZone team members joining Walmart are excited to bring our knowledge and apply it to such a broad canvas.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam's Club ranks No. 9 on the list.