May 11, 2021

Walmart, the next health tech giant - a timeline

telehealth
digitalhealthcare
medicationapp
virtualcare
Leila Hawkins
3 min
Walmart, the next health tech giant - a timeline
The retail giant looks set to focus on health tech. We look at key moments in Walmart Health's history...

Retail giant Walmart has been building its healthcare division for a number of years, but its recent acquisition of a telehealth firm and the slow down of its clinic expansion suggest its focus has now shifted to health tech. We look at key moments in Walmart's history in healthcare. 

2013

Walmart announces plans to provide "full primary care services" by 2020. The plans include opening clinics in underserved, urban areas, where the chain has many existing stores. 

2014

A series of “Healthcare Begins Here” events launch at Walmart stores, where consumers are given information on leading healthy lives, as well as free blood pressure, blood glucose and vision screenings, and access to vaccinations. 

2018

As part of the organisation's commitment to pursue a more data-centric approach to worker safety, Walmart partners with StrongArm, manufacturers of safety wearables. Staff begin wearing FUSE, a small sensor worn between their shoulder blades that detects injury risk. Within a year, ergonomic injuries decreased by 65%. 

2019

Walmart opens its first health centre in Dallas. The 10,000 square-foot "super centre" offers primary care, X-rays and ECG, counselling, dental, optical, hearing and community health services. Prices are affordable regardless of health insurance status. 

The same year a partnership with Doctor on Demand is announced, a telehealth company offering mental health services. As part of the agreement Walmart employees are able to access these services for free. 

2020 

The first health and wellness clinic opens in Springdale, Arkansas, providing primary care, dental care, vision and hearing services as well as behavioural health, fitness and wellness education classes.

Walmart acquires CareZone’s medication management technology. CareZone's app reminds users to take their medication and provides refill reminders. The acquisition complements Walmart's existing pharmacy service. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart is in talks with Verizon to implement 5G wireless service in select sites, to help boost digital health services. 

As part of its COVID-19 response, drive-thru testing is offered at hundreds of Walmart Neighborhood Market drive-thru pharmacy sites, free of charge through Humana

The retail giant teams up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer telehealth services to veterans at stores in Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. 

2021 

Walmart Mexico signs a deal with Jack Nathan Medical Corp, a Canadian tech-focused healthcare provider. This will see 153 new medical clinics open within stores across Mexico, taking the total in the country to 203. 

Walmart announces it is acquiring MeMD, a multi-speciality telehealth provider. The acquisition will enable Walmart Health to provide access to virtual care across the US. At the same time it is reported that plans to open further clinics are deliberately slowing down. 

"Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions" Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president for Health & Wellness said of the announcement. 

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Jun 23, 2021

NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency

medicalrecords
patientdata
NHS
privacy
3 min
NHSX has published a new strategy for patient data sharing, with experts calling for transparency

Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government. 

In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position." 

Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans. 

The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out. 

Kevin Curran,  senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server. 

"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it. 

"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released." 

The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency.  Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country. 

"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives." 

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