Wal-Mart launches telemedicine business

Leave it to Wal-Mart to continue to grow its franchise in health through yet anotherWalmart_logo2
revenue center. This time it’s telemedicine.

The company will pilot telemedicine through retail clinics in Houston, and will be trademarked as Walk-In Telemedicine Health Care. Wal-Mart will be partnering with My Healthy Access and NuPhysicia, the private company that comes out of the long-successful telemedicine program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Telemedicine was been pioneered at U-T in Galveston over the past 10 years, and the program has global reach.

Instead of employing nurse practitioners, the medical model for this program will use paramedics working under the supervision of physicians via various scopes technologies — electronic stethoscopes and beyond. NuPhysicia describes this process as, "interactive physician visits."

Jane’s Hot Points: While the retail clinic business may be flat, as I wrote on July 25, this new model will enhance patient choices on the retail health front beginning in Houston. If this program pans out in terms of process and outcomes measures, you can be sure Wal-Mart will replicate it in other metropolitan markets. Telemedicine in retail health clinics could differentiate Wal-Mart’s offering from other emerging clinic brands such as Minute Clinic, RediClinic, Take Care, and the many other storefronts among the 900+ clinics currently operating across the U.S.

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  2. Since Wal-Mart has a strong national presence in rural communities, they have the capability and capacity to reach many people in areas that may not have physician specialists. This is a great service to people who may normally only have access to a general practitioner.

  3. Telemedicine allows the most distant places to have a great health care. Soldiers, oil rigs workers, delegations, ambassadors and businessmen in all the corners of the world can use American best medicine through the technology advanced telemedicine equipment.

  4. By “paramedics”, I assume, they mean physician assistants (PA’s) vs. those from the ambulance/mobile ICU domain.
    Further, if we are facing a primary care imbalance of excess demand over supply, why doesn’t this nuanced retail model make sense on a number of levels i.e., access, cost, accountability, and health 2.0?
    Tele-medicine has its appeal and likely unrealized upside, particularly if can leverage the value of academic medicine from the lab into the community, especially those of the under-served variety.

    • Actually, Greg I think paramedics means paramedics from the “ambulance/ICU domain”. Paramedics receive expanded training, with more emphasis on areas such as anatomy, physiology and advanced medical skills. Paramedic programs typically take one to two years to complete, and often result in an associate‚Äôs degree. Passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians examination is required to become a certified paramedic.

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