Inside Walmart's physician acquisition strategy 

Walmart Health is another pmajor player in the race to acquire physicians as the healthcare industry consolidates. 

The company has nearly 50 locations across Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Texas, providing primary, behavioral and dental care. There are plans for 18 more in Texas and four in Missouri this year and six in Arizona early in 2025.

The company is adding fewer locations than originally planned: Four in Oklahoma have been put on hold, and six in Arizona are being built a few months later than expected for construction reasons. However, the company's retail healthcare arm is growing.

Walmart plans to open four healthcare centers in the Houston area this month and four more later this year. The clinics will combine primary, behavioral and dental care with labs, X-rays and hearing services.

In September, Walmart announced interest in purchasing majority ownership in ChenMed, a chain of primary care clinics focused on health for older patients. Walmart would have ownership in the company's more than 100 health centers in 15 states if the deal is finalized. Physician-led teams at ChenMed focus on bringing value-based care to Medicare beneficiaries, especially those with multiple chronic conditions.

Walmart named its first health system partner, Orlando (Fla.) Health, in November. That partnership will work on care coordination for patients at Walmart's eight healthcare centers in the Orlando area. 

Walmart's more deliberate approach to opening clinics differs from some of its retail healthcare competitors, the Houston Chronicle reported April 2. Walgreens has been closing dozens of primary care clinics after planning to expand VillageMD in 2021. CVS intends to open dozens of Oak Street Health locations after acquiring the company for $10.6 billion.

"I think what we've recognized from the beginning is it's hard," David Carmouche, MD, senior vice president of healthcare delivery for Walmart, told the Chronicle. "We'd rather be a little bit more pragmatic, learn, develop something that works, and then once we have that, then scale it."

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