Walmart is getting into oral healthcare. The retail giant now offers dentistry at its two newly opened Health Centers in Calhoun and Dallas, Georgia, alongside other services including primary care, counseling, labs and x-rays, optometry, hearing, and more.
Roshan Parikh, DDS, head of dental for health and wellness at Walmart Health, recently explained what the new services will involve and how the company aims to improve access to care by making it more convenient and less expensive.
Q: What prompted Walmart to launch Walmart Health?
A:Just as Walmart has brought convenience and everyday low prices to retail markets globally for 50 years, we looked at the complex problem of healthcare in America and the many different components and inconveniences that are built into it. We thought, what if we would take a step back and look at the well-being of the entire person and remove the complexity and uncertain opaque cost structure, making quality healthcare convenient and affordable so more people could get the care they need? Walmart is located within 10 miles of 90% of Americans, so we have a great opportunity to help Americans live better and healthier lives, starting in Georgia.
Q: What kinds of dental services will Walmart Health provide?
A: We currently offer a similar dental service offering that one would expect in a traditional private dental practice. Everything from basic diagnostics and hygiene to direct restorative, endodontics, crown and bridge, implant dentistry, dentures and removable dentistry, we offer quite a bit at Walmart Health.
Q: What kind of staffing will be providing care at Walmart Health?
A: Dentally speaking, we have a comprehensive team of general dentists and dental hygienists that are available seven days a week with convenient morning and evening appointments available daily.
Q: Will specialty care such as orthodontics be available?
A: Walmart saves the average American household $2,500 a year on the retail side. Our goal is to help Americans live better, which we also are evolving to mean live healthier, and creating this kind of access is one way we can do that. We’re attracting good, strong clinicians. We’re using digital scanners, CBCT, all-ceramic restorations, and every bell and whistle that you can imagine with a transparent and affordable pricing model, while still giving patients a premium experience. The goal over time is to provide orthodontics, dental implants, and other specialty procedures.
Q: What will the payment structure be like?
A: Walmart’s retail model has been centered around Everyday Low Price (EDLP) and transparency, and Walmart Health is no different. Our fee schedule for dental (as well as other healthcare modalities) is published online. When we were doing our comprehensive market research, we quickly learned that not only was convenience keeping Americans from visiting their dentist, but it was also price and pricing transparency. So, our payment structure is centered around affordable prices and transparency so there are no surprises.
Q: What kinds of results have you seen from the pilot so far?
A: The results have been very positive thus far.
Starting from the ground up, we are building quality relationships between provider and patients, providing meaningful interactions while also delivering convenience for patients and their families. We are seeing an increase in returning patients in Walmart Health Dallas, so we believe our care model works and will continue to grow.
We also want to learn how to best optimize referral patterns across the different modalities of medicine. It is really important because it emphasizes Walmart’s overall convenience philosophy, money value, and time concept. For Americans, the most precious resource that they have is time, so integrated care and services all under one roof is more convenient and a better way to treat the whole patient.
In dental, we’re pretty isolated, so this is especially exciting for us. Nowadays, dentists are getting trained in schools to understand that the mouth is the gateway to the body. They’re taking more of a medical approach to dentistry, and Walmart Health is probably one of the first times that some dentists get to use that experience.
Q: Are there plans for expansion?
A: We’re very pleased with the response to Walmart Health in Dallas, Georgia, where the practitioners are servicing a full schedule of patients with great feedback from the patients and community. Clinicians tell us they appreciate the integrated care model and the ability to address the diverse health needs of this community, and patients are excited to access healthcare so conveniently and affordably.
The Walmart Health prototypes we are opening is to test the optimal layout, mix, and size of the center. We are taking a measured approach that will factor in the unique needs of the communities we serve, and we look forward to continuing to learn how best to deliver the integrated quality care customers want and deserve.
We plan to expand Walmart Health into other communities we serve, focusing on Georgia, where we will be opening a handful of sites in 2020.
Q: What impact do you think these services will have on access to care?
A: It’s no secret that in the United States, we truly have an access to care issue. It’s front of mind of all Americans. At Walmart Health, we are hoping to make an impact in Georgia in terms of the improvement of access to care. Walmart Health also has an amazing online app where patients can register for appointment, input insurance information, and get an estimated cost of their visit in less than five minutes.
We believe in providing moments of care for everyone, everywhere, so our goal is to provide an excellent patient experience where they feel cared for, and part of that is ease and convenience.