Q&A with Walmart’s Dr. Cheryl Pegus “Consumer Engagement is an Important Part of Healthcare”

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Health care was Walmart’s fastest-growing line of business last quarter. What do you see as big business healthcare gaining lately?

I would say the things that we focus on a lot are the ways people use health care. There are days when they leave their homes and enter an office. We provide solutions for this; we develop this care in person. We are opening clinics in Florida this year and adding additional clinics in Arkansas where we already have a presence. When people need to see someone, whether it’s a Saturday or a Sunday, we want them to be able to receive that care in person from our clinical team.

Second, people are not just looking for primary care. For many people, they need dental and optical care. Sometimes they need help understanding their health benefits. We provide optical and dental care within the same primary care site. And we have community health workers to help people understand their health benefits. We will also help them with any other health issues. So we have one source and one place to meet all your health care needs, in person.

There are, however, people who would like to receive their care virtually. I am one of those people. And what I’m looking for is, again, that easy access. Today, Walmart only has a presence in a select number of states. As we continue to grow this business, a telehealth business we acquired last year, now called Walmart Health, allows us to provide virtual healthcare to anyone across the country.

In our telehealth offerings, we not only include virtual health for adults, but we have also launched a program specifically for adolescents, recognizing the needs of this population. We also have a virtual COVID-19 program where you can see someone for your symptoms, you can get prescribed medications and then you can have them filled at one of our pharmacies in real time. In some of our locations, we also deliver this to your home the same day. So we’re really trying to allow people to get the health care they need without disrupting the rest of their lives.

How would you describe adoption for primary care clinics and telehealth?

The adoption has been pretty amazing. For our clinics and some of our sites, we saw 80% year-on-year growth. We also saw (net promoter scores) somewhere in the 80s, which is pretty incredible for us as an organization. We’re seeing people line up for specific services, even though they’ve seen their clinician in person for their follow-up visit, they’d like it to be virtual because it’s a blood pressure check, or it’s to see how they’re doing with their meds. We have integrated virtual health into our clinics. We find that it is also a way for people to access care through us. I mentioned our NPS score in our clinics, and I would say for our pharmacies – another great place for anyone who got a COVID shot this year – the NPS scores are between 75 and 78. So we’re very focused on consumers not only having a great experience, but ensuring that we deliver value and improve healthcare outcomes.

Obviously, Walmart is also a huge employer. Are there any differences in your strategy as an employer in relation to customers who walk through Walmart’s doors?

I always remind people that for our Walmart pharmacies and clinics, our biggest users are actually our associates. We have 1.6 million in the United States. What we hear and the feedback we get from them about what they like about the healthcare services we provide is actually our biggest motivation for innovation. This is because our associates live in these communities. They know their own health care and their family’s health needs. And that really pushes us to be able to provide solutions that they can use.

When I say we have a new COVID-19 telehealth offering, it’s because of the needs of our associates. They want to do a symptom check. They want to see a doctor if they need it. They would like to be informed of new oral treatments. They would like to understand if they need a callback. And so we really summarized what they need. Knowing what they need allows us to adapt it to the communities.

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