OK, this is one I’m not really sure I want to think about just yet.
Wal-Mart (yes, Wal-Mart!) is getting into the health clinic business. The company that brought you $4 generic medications is planning to open walk-in medical clinics, usually staffed by Nurse Practitioners, in many of their new stores.
Before you start thinking I’ve lost my mind, look at this from the point of view of Wal-Mart High Command: 130 million people a week visit a Wal-Mart store.
130,000,000 each week. If I did the math right, that’s almost Thirteen Thousand Wal-Mart visits per minute each week.
Wal-Mart plans to have 400 clinics open by 2011, and they expect 2,000 clinics to be open by 2014. With prices for a clinic visit expected to be about $55 (per visit), that’s a pretty good deal. And Wal-Mart is predicting that by 2014, there will be at least 11,000 patient visits to their clinics. These aren’t hospitals, of course – they aren’t even Urgent Care Centers. But for low-level needs like Flu shots or when allergies get the best of you, they could be exactly what you need.
And Wal-Mart is a game changer. At one time the only “groceries” you could find in a Wal-Mart store was the candy located in the checkout aisle. Now they are one of America’s largest grocery retailers. So when Wally World gets involved, this might be the start of something very big.
Time will tell.