Well, they may not actually be at Walmart. And they may not actually be attractive – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Let us explain.
Last week InformationWeek carried the news that Telemed Ventures “is currently leasing space in two Walmart stores where doctors can examine shoppers via videoconferencing services provided by Telemed Ventures and their technology partner, BSC Global Networks” (The Doctor Will See You In Walmart, Nicole Lewis, 6/5/12)
Our feeling is this is significant news, for at least two reasons. First, the integration of telephysician visit capacity into retail clinics service offerings is probably THE most prominent initiative in the industry currently – rivaling the chain operators’ forging of alliances with leading regional hospital systems. Everyone seems to be doing it – including RiteAid, which is testing telephysician services in some of their Detroit-area stores, and TakeCare Health, whose plans in this area have given less public exposure.
Second, the service providers took the lead in the media release about the telephysician service offering.
Walmart may have simply decided that, given the past reception for its health care services announcements (skepticism & confusion being among the most common responses) this was not a story they wanted to lead themselves. A Walmart spokesperson is quoted in the informative (appropriate!) InformationWeek story.
The general practice for Walmart vendors is to adopt a policy of speaking when spoken to, so their message leadership in this instance seemed noteworthy.
Drug Store News ran a separate story on the news exclusively quoting executives from London-based company BSC Global. There seem to be no other trade or general business press accounts about BSC’s selection to enable “remote video consultations between a patient and doctor through a life-like, virtual face-to-face video interface over a secure video network — [for] Walmart’s retail medical clinics….” (Walmart’s retail medical clinics to add telemedicine services, Allison Cerra, Drug Store News, 6/7/12)
So it looks like doctors will soon be able to “look good” at a small number of Walmart retail clinic locations in eastern Pennsylvania (and you wondered where our title was taking you). One of those will be at the retailer’s Bensalem PA location – a store at which there is currently NO retail clinic, telehealth-equipped or not.
We’ll keep you posted when other locations are identified and opened for telehealth business.