Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is partnering with Amedisys (NYSE: AMED) to expand hospice utilization nationwide through the retail giant’s new health care arm Walmart Health.
Walmart Health contracts local health care providers in certain markets to provide primary care, laboratory services, dental optical, diagnostic imaging and other services that will now include hospice and home health, with plans to expand nationwide. The company opened its first health care center in a Dallas location earlier this week.
“We are testing a variety of services with partners in our Walmart Health prototype in Dallas, Ga.,” Walmart spokesperson Marilee McGinnis told Hospice News. “Among them is home health, hospice and personal care.”
Walmart confirmed that Amedisys would be its partner for home- and community-based health care services.
Walmart’s entry into the health care area could prove to be an industry game-changer, according to a report by William Blair Analyst Matt Larew.
“We also point to Walmart as a company with underappreciated disruption potential in health care,” Larew wrote. “While Walmart has moved beyond pharmacy to dip its toe in the water on the payer side (through its joint Medicare Part D plan with Humana) and provider side (with over 50 on-site primary care clinics), the company’s massive near-home footprint creates unmatched scale to layer on health, wellness, and health care service.”
Walmart is the world’s second largest retailer with more that 4,700 stores in the United States in addition to its Sam’s Club locations. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) surpassed Walmart as the largest global retailer earlier this year.
According to Larew’s research, 90% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart store, and more than 50% of the U.S. population is part of an in-person transaction in a Walmart store every week. The company’s wellness screening programs, operated through in-store kiosks in partnership with Pursuant Health, perform more health risk assessments that the entire rest of the U.S. health system, according to Larew.
Growing its hospice segment is a top priority for Amedisys, the third largest hospice provider in the United States, in an effort to increase utilization and balance its hospice portfolio with its home health operations, which represent the bulk of its business. .
“We are really going to feed the beast in hospice. Right now from an M&A perspective, from where should we be focusing on de novos, on tuck-ins, on deals, on integrations—we are pushing hospice,” said CEO Paul Kusserow in a presentation at the RBC Capital Markets Global Healthcare Conference earlier this year.