Wal-Mart to add 13 medical clinics to Supercentres

5/6/2011

In its aim to become a one-stop shop, Wal-Mart said it’s adding 13 more medical clinics to its larger Supercentres. It currently has 19 clinics. Its following in the footsteps of Loblaw Cos. Ltd. that began opening clinics in its stores eight years ago, which now totals 95. Shoppers Drug Mart meanwhile, has 250 medical clinics near its retail outlets.

This trend is a way for retailers to meet consumer demand for convenience while adding a new service that fits in with their brand. It’s also a way for retailers, although not the main reason, retailers such as Wal-Mart and Loblaw can get a bigger share of the pharmacy market.

“We provide a service that saves the customer an additional trip they may be making after they come to a Wal-Mart store either for grocery or merchandise,” said Ross Thompson, Wal-Mart’s director of licensee operations. “Also, we like to provide a service that will bring the customer back.” Wal-Mart starting adding clinics three years ago, while Shoppers Drug Mart was the pioneer by opening its first medical clinic in 2002.

Loblaw’s medical clinics are a part of the retailer’s wider “health and wellness strategy” that encompasses its “Blue Menu” line of more healthful products, Natural Value health food departments, cooking classes and Good Life Fitness centres.

Patients at Wal-Mart and Loblaw are given pagers that allow them to shop the rest of the store while waiting to be seen by a doctor. And these clinics are serving a need out in the marketplace, especially for new immigrants who don’t have a family doctor.

The retailer acts a landlord to the clinics, which cater to more walk-in patients compared to doctor’s offices, and the third party firm is responsible for buying the equipment, staffing and billing.  Wal-Mart uses Jack Nathan Health, while Loblaw uses Primacy.

Doctors working in these types of clinics can be recent graduates who want a practice without incurring a lot of debt, emergency room doctors nearing retirement or those with their own practice looking for extra hours without the record-keeping associated with a family practice.

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