Leave it to Wal-Mart to continue to grow its franchise in health through yet another revenue center: this time, it’s telemedicine.
The company will pilot telemedicine through retail clinics in Houston, Texas, 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.”
Health Populi’s Hot Points: While the retail clinic business may be flat, as I wrote in Health Populi 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.